Rapid rise of rabies

Rabies is a virus which is transferred to humans through a bite or scratch of a deceased animal and always becomes deadly once signs are developed. After rabies develops in a patient, they will die in five to seven days, symptoms for example fever, hydrophobia or aerophobia begin to show there is no coming back. The only thing is to make the patient comfortable.
Rabies affects around 5,000 deaths yearly in Pakistan mainly due to the absence of awareness regarding the disease and the costly treatment, as only first dose is given in government hospitals and the rest of the four to five doses have to be bought. Pakistan, cautioned healthcare professionals, due to a constant shortage of medicines used for its treatment. It is a disease that is transferred to humans via bites predominantly by infected dogs. If proper medicine is not given timely death is certain. Rabid mainly affects the poor. As dog area flourishes around garbage sites in thickly populated areas, and a rabid dog is more probable to come into contact with a pedestrian than someone in a car. The useless current practice of culling dogs by poisoning or shooting is not only brutal but also useless; other countries have found success in adopting a scheme of capturing, vaccinating and sterilizing stray dogs, before returning them to their places. This successfully diminishes dog populations over time to orderly levels, while avoiding the transmission of the rabies virus. One experimental project recently in a locality in a commercial area of Karachi, demonstrated encouraging outcome within a year, in an area where dog-bite events were quite frequent there were no incidents of rabies, lesser newborn puppies. A seven-year-old from Shikarpur died at the Indus Hospital in a state of panting. He was instantly taken on a ventilator. The reason was a dog bite on the child’s arm. The father told a doctor at the hospital that last month his son had been bitten by a rabid dog. He was playing in the open air with other children bothering the neighbor’s dog when the animal unexpectedly attacked the boy. Most public sector hospitals in the country were confronting constant shortage of rabies vaccine. In the last decade Karachi has had more than 27,000 animal bite victims. Most hospitals purchase vaccines on their own from local vendors and they don’t have any vaccine these days Reliable sources states that Pakistan is short by 800,000 doses. For the last couple of months an intense shortage of the rabies vaccine has been noticed across the country, particularly in Sindh province, and as a result patients have to travel far distances to get to hospitals such for example the Indus Hospital and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for vaccinations. Most of the vaccine is imported from Europe is costly and the supply has step by step reduced. India manufactures a superior quality vaccine which is cheaper for Pakistan but due to a limited supply from there Pakistan is facing an extensive shortage. Even India is experiencing shortage in the last few years. In the past couple of years, incidents of dog bites have increased in India. India has approximately 35 percent of the human rabies deaths which is more and above any other country. Thailand produces the vaccine enough just only to meet the country’s needs.
The Specific Branch of Punjab police has disclosed that out of the 2,118 health facilities in the province visited by its field staff, the life-saving anti-rabies vaccine is not available in 1,851 of them. D G Khan showed a very worrying scene with the vaccine available only in 12 health facilities out of the total 217 visited by the agency in the region. The DG Khan district is disturbed and out of the total 56 health facilities or hospitals, the anti-rabies vaccine was available in merely two of them. Special Branch exposed the scale of negligence on the part of both the health authorities and the district governments, stating that 15 people had died of bites from stray dogs and 1,945 others injured in various parts of the province. Of them, five victims, including children, belonged to the Rahim Yar Khan district. The CM ordered action against the health authorities over their frustration to ensure provision of life-saving vaccine to public sector health facilities. The Special Branch says that Punjab was witnessing a bitter increase in dog-bite cases, mainly among children. The Special Branch deplored that during the research, it found that four state-run teaching hospitals of the province also do not have the vaccine, particularly with regard to Children’s Hospital, Mayo Hospital, Services Hospital and Nawaz Sharif Social Security Hospital Lahore. The Special Branch had sent different teams to government hospitals all over the province to prepare a detailed report on the supply of the vaccine patients. The health facilities investigated particularly teaching hospitals, district headquarters hospitals, tehsil headquarters hospitals, basic health units and rural health centres. The anti-rabies vaccine is finishing in Karachi and the government is wordless about where to get more vaccines from. There have been no arrangements made at government hospitals to obtain the vaccine. The import of the vaccine from India has been stopped. It also used to be imported from China but that has also stopped. The health department hasn’t taken any steps to remedy this situation. The Indus Hospital in Karachi only has one month’s worth of vaccines left. Over 100 dog bite cases are reported in the city every day. The vaccine imported from India costs about Rs1, 000 on the hand one imported from Europe costs approximately Rs70, 000. At public hospitals, cases of dog bites are treated for free. Public hospitals use the Indian vaccine because it is cheaper. Some private hospitals in the city use the expensive European vaccines. India does not want to export this vaccine to Pakistan anymore and the government has not come up with any option. Time has come to initiate producing this vaccine in Pakistan. If the government cannot find a cheap alternative to the European vaccine, the number of deaths due to rabies will accelerate.

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