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5 million feared sick over next 12 weeks in flooded areas due to disease outbreak

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  • People likely to get diarrhea, cholera, gastroenteritis, typhoid, dengue and malaria.
  • Children at risk of getting measles, which can spread like fire among the displaced populations, and polio.
  • A disease outbreak would initially require medicines and medical supplies worth Rs1 billion.

Health experts have sounded the alarm regarding the outbreak of disease in flood-affected areas, estimating around five million people to fall sick in the next four to 12 weeks, The News reported.

People in the flooded areas of Sindh, Balochistan, southern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are likely to get diarrhea, cholera, gastroenteritis, typhoid and vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria, the health experts warned on Tuesday.

It is estimated that a disease outbreak would initially require medicines and medical supplies worth Rs1 billion, they said, and urged donors, philanthropists and common people to donate these after consulting health experts and officials of rescue and welfare organisations.

“Of the 33 million people affected due to monsoon rains and floods across Pakistan, it is estimated that around five million people, including children, would get sick due to outbreak of water-borne and vector-borne diseases in the next four to 12 weeks.

“As there is no clean drinking water available in the flood-ravaged areas, there is a risk of outbreak of diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, gastroenteritis, dengue and malaria,” renowned public health expert and Vice-Chancellor of the Health Services Academy (HSA) Islamabad Dr Shahzad Ali told The News on Tuesday.

He said children would be more vulnerable due to weak immunity and warned that an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea, and other water-borne diseases could kill hundreds of children and adults if immediate preventive measures were not adopted.

“There is an urgent need to vaccinate all the people in the flood affected areas against typhoid-cholera. This vaccine is available in the country and it can be deployed to prevent deaths from typhoid and cholera in Sindh and Balochistan. Similarly, prophylactic treatment of malaria should also be started to prevent deaths from the vector-borne disease,” Dr Khan said.

Urging the authorities to make anti-snake venom and anti-rabies vaccines available in abundance, he said hundreds of incidents of snake-bite and dog-bite had been reported from KP, Sindh and Balochistan.

Former health director-general and an expert on infectious diseases Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar was of the opinion that children in the flood affected areas were the most vulnerable and needed immediate medical attention, saying immunisation programmes of the provinces should reach out to unvaccinated children.

“In addition to diarrhea and other water-borne diseases, children are at the risk of getting measles which can spread like fire among the displaced populations. Polio is another threat and unfortunately, we have seen wild poliovirus 1 circulating in many cities of KP and Punjab, while it can travel to the other cities where it has not yet been found,” Dr Safdar said.

On the other hand, officials of the welfare organisations working in the flood-hit areas said a large number of people, including women and children, had already started suffering from water-borne infections, including diarrhea, gastroenteritis, cholera, fever, flu, allergy, scabies and other fungal skin ailments.

“We also believe that around Rs1 billion would be required initially to meet the medical needs of sick people in the flood-hit areas as hundreds of people are getting sick due to water-borne and vector-borne diseases in these areas,” said Sufyan Ahmed, Managing Director of the Al-Khidmat Health Foundation, who is coordinating with the charity and welfare organisations for relief operations in the flood-hit areas across Pakistan.

According to Ahmed, in the absence of any guidelines, a huge quantity of unwanted medicines were being donated which go to waste or are misused in the name of flood victims.

“In these circumstances, we have prepared guidelines for relief operations with the assistance from Pakistan Society of Health-System Pharmacists. These guidelines provide a complete list of medicines, medical supplies and other stuff that is needed by the patients in distress at the moment,” Ahmed said.

He then referred to the guideline which carried details of several medicines for anti-infectives (oral), cough and cold preps, pain/colic, fever management (oral), pregnancy or female care, antacids, wound dressing, vomiting/nausea (oral), anti-diarrheal (oral) and others as basic first aid supplies. The list also identified several medicine supplies for the healthcare units, which are required in the flood hit areas.

The health authorities, he said, were also coordinating with the local pharmaceuticals and charity and welfare organisations to help them reach out to the affected areas in dire need of medical supplies.

“One such engagement was facilitated between local pharmaceutical company Pharmevo and Al-Khidmat Foundation and the former is providing Rs5 million medicines to the latter for the affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan in the first phase,” he said. “It’s a gigantic task and the government alone cannot handle the situation. So we are engaging all individuals and organisations and channelising the operation for effective results.”

The fresh initiative, he said, was aimed at giving patients access to basic clinical services for their medicinal needs, better than what the local infrastructure has to offer in a very disastrous situation.

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Pakistan

Terrorist who martyred two ISI officials in Khanewal gunned down in IBO

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  • Terrorist was at large after killing security officials.
  • Security forces conduct joint operation to nab militant.
  • Niazi succumbs to injuries after being injured in fire exchange.

A terrorist who martyred Naveed Sadiq and Nasir Hussain — the director and inspector of the Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) Counter-Terrorism Wing — was gunned down by law enforcement agencies on Monday in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Kurram Agency.

The slain terrorist, identified as Umar Niazi, was at large after he martyred the two ISI officials on January 3.

The security agencies arrested the terrorist with serious injuries following an exchange of fire. Niazi succumbed to his injuries after a while.

Intelligence agencies nabbed the terrorist before he could slip into Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, the terrorist martyred ISI officials Sadiq and Hussain when they were at a local hotel in Khanewal, Punjab.

Sadiq, meanwhile, was martyred in Khanewal at a time when he was on a mission to take down the network of a banned outfit operating from Afghanistan.

South Punjab Additional Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Sahabzada Shahzad Sultan said the perpetrators were on a motorcycle.

Both officials were posthumously awarded the Hilal-e-Shujaat and Tamgha-e-Shujaat.

Sadiq, who headed the ISI’s CTD wing, was awarded the Sitara-e-Shujaat on March 23, 2021, in recognition of his bravery and courage against anti-national elements.

He joined the police force as a sub-inspector in 2002. After appearing for a high-level exam in 2009, he was appointed to the ISI, the premier intelligence agency, as the assistant director.

During his tenure, the spy agency official exposed key networks of banned outfits. After months of efforts, he gained access to the high command of Daesh. He also neutralised the terrorists after raiding and finding their ambush site in Faisalabad.

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Pakistan

Islamabad court decides to indict Imran Khan in Toshakhana case

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ISLAMABAD: A local court in Islamabad has decided to indict Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case.

The court has set February 7 as the date for the indictment of the PTI chairman. 

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Pakistan

Blast in Balochistan’s Kachhi leaves one injured

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  • Blast takes place in Kachhi district.
  • Police say explosives were placed on roadside.
  • Balochistan under constant terror attacks recently.

In yet another terror incident in the restive province of Balochistan, at least one person was injured after an explosion took place in the Kachhi district of the province, police said on Monday. 

The police told media persons that the explosives were placed on a roadside.

Balochistan has been under constant terror attacks recently with several incidents taking place in the province. 

Bolan incident

Recently, at least 18 people were injured after a remote-control bomb detonated on a railway track in Bolan, forcing the train’s engine and seven carriages off the track.

Railway authorities said that the injured had been shifted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Sibi.

The Jaffer Express train was travelling from Machh to Sibi, when the blast occurred, local authorities said.

“A relief train was dispatched from Sibi to rescue passengers of the train and bring them to Sibi safely. Passengers on the Jaffer Express coming from Peshawar to Machh were stopped at Sibi and are now being brought to Quetta via buses,” they added.

According to Deputy Commissioner Kachhi Agha Samiullah, the blast was carried out by a remote-control device.

On the other hand, the carriages of the derailed train are being lifted from the railway track.

Terror attacks

In the annual report issued by the Centre for Research & Security Studies (CRSS), Balochistan suffered from 110 attacks last year, becoming the second most vulnerable province in the country.

Over 250 people lost their lives in terrorist attacks and counter-attacks, whereas over 200 sustained serious injuries in the province.

The last month of the year witnessed over two dozen attacks in quick succession, and that became one-fourth of the total fatalities that occurred in Balochistan, a province which has just 6% of the country’s population.

According to reports, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA), the terrorist organisations, are mainly involved in terror incidents in the area-wise largest province of the country. In Balochistan, at least 14 major attacks took place mostly on security forces targets.

Security forces remained the primary target of terrorist attacks in the province.

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