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Health minister shows concern over growing TB cases

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LAHORE: Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid today expressed her concern over growing number of tuberculosis (TB) cases in the country.
She was speaking during her visit to Syed Muhammad Hussain Government TB Sanatorium Samli, Murree. “Every year more than half million new cases of TB are emerging in Pakistan and approximately 15,000 developing drug-resistant TB, making Pakistan fifth among TB high burden countries worldwide and it accounts for 61 per cent of the TB burden in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region,” she regretted.
While pointing out a recent report of World Health Organisation (WHO), she said: “I am sad to know that Pakistan is also estimated to have the fourth highest prevalence of multidrug-resistant TB globally,” said the minister.
Key reasons, she added, for the emergence of drug resistance form of TB include delay in diagnosis, unsupervised, inappropriate and inadequate drug regimes, poor follow-up and lack of a social support programme for high risk populations.
Dr. Yasmin Rashid stressed all factions of society to come ahead for an effective awareness drive to root out tuberculosis. “TB treatment programme DOTS was a ray of hope for patients; the problem was that patients usually stop using medicines due to which virus gets strong,” she noted. The minister visited all department of the sanatorium and expressed her satisfaction over services being provided there.

Relevant: South Korea said it will recall Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccines manufactured in Japan as arsenic, a toxic substance, was detected.

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare stopped distribution of new BCG vaccine products in August after it found a low dose of arsenic in the vaccine’s physiological saline.

According to the ministry, a vaccine could contain up to 0.26 parts per million (ppm) of arsenic, 1/38 of the maximum amount allowed per day.

The South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said a shot of the BCG vaccine contained up to 0.23 ppm of arsenic, exceeding South Korea’s standard of 0.1 ppm. It decided to recall the products as a precaution.

The Japan Medical Association held a press conference on Thursday to denounce the Japanese government’s late announcement on the arsenic-contained BCG vaccine for infants, according to Kyodo News. BCG vaccines are used against tuberculosis in infants.

Japan’s healthy ministry halted distribution of BCG vaccines, manufactured by Japan BCG Laboratory after it received a report that detected arsenic in the vaccine’s saline solution. It didn’t immediately announce the decision as it found that the level of arsenic concentration is minimal without the potential to cause harm.

The ministry’s research showed that arsenic was from the heated glass bottle that contained the BCG vaccine.

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Trash burning continues despite smog alerts

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ISLAMABAD: The unprecedented fatal Smog phenomenon has caused heavy casualties and hazardous diseases across the region especially, in the neighboring countries of China and India however, the garbage burning continues in the twin cities despite several admonitions by health, environmental experts and concerned authorities.
Talking to APP, Ahmed Ali a student and resident of I-10/1 regretted the open burning of trash in various garbage trolleys, open places and roadsides causing suffocation and serious respiratory problems. He said that environmental reports, experts and doctors are repeatedly advising to avoid trash burning but still it persists in almost every sector of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. “There are shamming social media campaigns and hashtags going viral over the internet but nobody is bothering about creating awareness among the masses on serious and poisoning emissions caused due to the burning of waste.
There are no reports in the media over the unbridled burning of garbage at the part of the citizens, sanitation workers and rag pickers who are putting public health and environment at serious risk,” he remarked. Monazza Shehzad said that people in I-12 sector mischievously set heaps of garbage and at times dry grass in the deserted patches of the sector for fun which produces huge smoke screens in the air. “It (smoke of burning garbage) produces a pungent and stinking smell that sometimes create an emergency situation for an asthmatic patient and senior citizens which should be dealt with a strong mechanism from the concerned authorities,” she added.
Farkhanda Ilyas, a resident of Asghar Mall Scheme, Rawalpindi said that trash and household waste burning is common in every nook and corner of the area. “People are found setting a small pile of garbage at the fire just to warm them which is deplorable as they do not know its impacts on the environment and public health. Such persons should be charged with heavy fines and punishment by the concerned authorities,” she said.
The Environment Protection Agency (PAK-EPA) officials said that the agency was making all-out efforts but it is now at the part of the society and media to educate the masses over the looming issue they were breeding themselves as EPA was doing its lot within available resources.

 

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Rational use of antibiotics

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ISLAMABAD: The National Institute of Health (NIH), Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU) Monday organized a seminar today at Holy Family Hospital Rawalpindi to increase awareness regarding the rational use of antibiotics.
The theme of the seminar was “Change can’t wait. Our time with antibiotics is running out”. This seminar was a part of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week and was attended by the physicians, young doctors, paramedics, students and faculty members of Rawalpindi Medical University. The aim of the seminar was to increase awareness regarding the rational use of antibiotics.  It was intended to promote best practices among the general public and healthcare workers to minimize the widespread use of antibiotics.
During the seminar, Dr. Afrinish Amir, Laboratory Coordinator, NIH discussed the Global and National overview of AMR resistance, and the existing misuse of antibiotics all over the world in different forms.  Dr. Nasim Akhtar, Infectious Diseases physician Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) discussed the precautions to be taken by the paramedical staff to prevent the risk of bacterial transmission and antibiotic resistance among patients. She added, increasing Nosocomial infection within hospital setting was also an alarming situation which was very hard to treat due to antimicrobial resistance.
The session was concluded with the brief message by the Vice Chancellor of Rawalpindi Medical University, Dr. Muhammad Umar, who highlighted the significance of creating awareness about AMR and finding a permanent solution for this problem for the benefit of future generations.  At the end of the seminar, awareness walk was also organized by the participants.

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Global fight against malaria has stalled!

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Global fight against malaria has stalled

MAPUTO: The World Health Organisation on Monday said global efforts to fight malaria have hit a plateau as it reported there were more cases of the killer disease in 2017 than the previous year.
The latest WHO report showed that the number of malaria cases climbed to 219 million last year, two million higher than 2016, while international funding has declined.
“The world faces a new reality,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned as the UN agency launched the new report.
“As progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease,” the WHO chief said.
Malaria, which is spread to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes, occurs in 91 countries but about 90 percent of the cases and deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Foreign funding to some of the most affected countries has declined, in certain instances by more than 20 percent for every individual at risk of contracting the disease.
“A considerable proportion of people at risk of infection are not being protected, including pregnant women and children in Africa,” the WHO chief said.
The disease killed 435,000 people last year, the majority of them children under five in Africa.
Another constraint in fighting malaria has been mosquitoes building up resistance to some commonly used insecticides, according to the report.
WHO said it was embarking on new ways to scale up the battle against one of the world’s deadliest diseases.
The plan includes country-led projects to “jumpstart aggressive” control efforts, said Kesete Admasu, who heads Roll Back Malaria, a global partnership initiative to curb the parasitic disease.
Mozambique is one of the target countries.
“Business, as usual, is no longer an option,” said Admasu.
Most malaria cases reported last year were in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Five countries accounted for nearly half of the cases: Nigeria (25 percent), DR Congo (11 percent), Mozambique (five percent), and India and Uganda with four percent each.

 

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