Preventable disease

The anti-rabies vaccine remains unavailable even in some of the major government hospitals

May 22, 2024


That even curable diseases are haunting us speaks of the indifference and inefficiency of the authorities concerned. Rabies is one such disease that is turning out to be threatening — even in the capital city — just because of the non-availability of the vaccine that treats it. While, according to media reports, there has been an increase in the incidents of dog-bite in Islamabad due to hot and humid weather conditions when dogs often get rabid — 230 cases have been reported to government hospitals in the last 18 days, apart from an unknown number of cases thought to have been reported to private hospitals or clinics — the anti-rabies vaccine remains unavailable even in some of the major government hospitals.

The authorities — well not just in Islamabad, but nearly everywhere in the country — are a perpetual failure both in the context of controlling the stray-dog population and ensuring the supply of the vaccine needed to save dog-bite victims from an extremely painful death, one that comes by inches. A dog-bite victim first develops fever as well as severe bodyache, followed by a choked throat that renders him unable to even drink water so much so that he starts avoiding even the sight of a glass of water out of sheer fear. And this condition, called hydrophobia, results in the death.

It goes without saying that preventing people from being exposed to a disease that reduces the chances of survival to almost nil, according to studies, needs urgent and proper attention. To start with, the anti-rabies vaccine must be made available at all government-run hospitals. Animal birth control measures need to be adopted rather than resorting to the inhuman method of culling. Media should be utilitised to run campaigns of mass dog vaccination to eliminate dog to dog and dog to man transmissions of the virus. Last but not least, public must be made aware of timely wound management.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2024.

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