KARACHI - Public hospitals in the metropolis are facing acute shortage of cell culture vaccines used for treatment of a viral disease Rabies, The Nation has learned.

As many as 55,000 people die of rabies worldwide every year, many of them are children bitten by rabid dogs. Despite hundreds of people dying of rabies the Sindh Government, especially Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), has failed to protect citizens from attacks and bites of stray dogs. Following numerous cases shortage of the vaccines has also been observed in big government hospitals, including Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and Qatar Hospital etc.

 According to Canadian Health Website, “the bite of a rabid animal is the most common cause of rabies. The virus is carried in the saliva of the rabid animal and is able to enter the body through an opening in the skin, such as a bite wound. High-risk animals included bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, woodchucks, non-domesticated (wild) dogs.”

Talking to TheNation, Dr Naseem Salahuddin, Member WHO Expert Panel for Rabies and Head, Department of Infectious Diseases at the Indus Hospital, said that many dog bite cases are being reported not only in the Indus Hospital but in other public hospital of the city. A large number of cases came from other public hospitals where vaccines for the treatment are not available.

Talking on the issue General Secretary PMA Karachi Dr Qazi Wasiq said that the rise of dog bite cases in the city is nothing but a failure of the KMC, adding that stray dogs are not being caught that is why dog bite cases have become a matter of concern for citizens.

According to old statistics prepared by National Institute of Health (NIH), nearly 2,000 to 5,000 deaths are reported annually due to rabies in Pakistan, which has already been termed as a 'rabies-endemic' country because of lack of awareness regarding the disease. As per advises made by the experts of WHO, wound cleansing and immunisations should be done immediately. Following the WHO recommendations we can prevent the onset of rabies in virtually 100 per cent of exposures. Once the signs and symptoms of rabies have started appearing than there is no treatment possible and the disease is almost fatal.

Director KMC Municipal Services Masood Alam has already mentioned that some NOGs and other animal right organisations are creating hurdles in the launch of any massive campaign against the stray dogs in the city.

“KMC does not have sufficient funds and other resources to setup any system for domestication of dogs, as it is being done in India, Bangladesh, Srilanka and others countries,” he added