Stories about WHO

Can Pakistan be polio-free?

People who know me well know that I often compulsively compare and contrast India and Pakistan by virtue of not just their close proximity, but because I consider both countries as my home. When the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared India polio free on March 27, 2014, after it had not had a single case since 2009, I was filled with great pride. Knowing that India is densely populated, afflicted with poverty and has poor access to healthcare for millions, polio eradication was indeed something to celebrate. But as in every such situation, I naturally wanted to know how long it ...

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Ebola 101: Follow Nigeria, Pakistan

As Pakistan battles numerous infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, hepatitis A, typhoid, tuberculosis and polio, the western media is taken over by the Ebola scare. With the recent media frenzy surrounding three suspected Ebola patients in Pakistan, the hysteria is now equally palpable at home. The question being asked is: Will Ebola hit Pakistan? Ebola is a severe viral infection with an average mortality rate of about 70%. The incubation period – the time between infection by the virus and onset of symptoms – is between two and 21 days. This means that it can take up to three weeks before the ...

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Genetic engineering – Unethical or welcomed?

A scalpel has the power to kill a human being who lies helplessly on the table in an operation room. However, that very scalpel can also save that person. It all depends on the surgeon whose hand the scalpel is in; he can choose to either use it to save a patient’s life or just end it with a few wrong cuts. This idea applies to every other technology or tool. It depends on you, whether you choose to use it or abuse it. For me, genetic engineering is a technology that should get immediate support and advancement from today’s community. It is a ...

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Polio vaccine: Is it really as safe as it is claimed to be?

Reporting on polio vaccination has secured a regular slot in major media outlets. The reporting is mostly always supportive of the vaccination campaign commonly called “polio eradication”. But is the Oral Polio Vaccine( OPV), or Sabin vaccine (named after Albert Sabin), which is administered to millions of children in the developing world, really safe? Does it have no harmful effect on human health a claimed by some doctor in a recent story? The short answer is: no, it’s not completely safe. Not only can it cause permanent disability in some children, it actually has caused epidemics of paralysis in at least two countries ...

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Are we safe from the Ebola disease?

While other countries are preparing for an imminent threat of spread of the deadly virus known as Ebola, one has to think what is being done on our end to ensure the safety of our people if the virus finds its way to Pakistan. However, before we ponder over that, there are a few questions that need to be answered. What is Ebola? Ebola, a Filovirus, has been around since 1976 but the largest outbreak to date has been this year and so far efforts to control it have been widely unsuccessful. It is confined to Africa at the moment with the ...

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Do we want our children to be paralysed in Naya Pakistan?

The daily theatre of political brinkmanship that Pakistan has been witnessing as of late has led to a number of negative consequences. I am not going on a long lament, listing a plethora of things wrong with Pakistan but will bring to attention a very important issue that is grossly being neglected at the moment – polio. Do you know that Pakistan is the biggest polio endemic country in the world today? We may hear that Pakistan is only one of the three countries where polio exists, including Nigeria and Afghanistan, but what we do not hear is that we ...

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Has Imran Khan brought about any ‘tabdeeli’ in K-P?

The 2013 general elections were perhaps the most important elections in the history of this country. They brought forward a positive change in political outlook. They were able to mobilise the masses to leave their houses and become an active part of the political process by voting. And they were a lethal blow to the venal aristocratic oligarchy; they brought a party to power that did not stand on aristocracy or family politics – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). However, cynics now mock the PTI for not living up to the hype it created to bring out a complete metamorphosis or ‘tsunami’ in ...

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The curse of the green passport

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently recommended travel restrictions on Pakistanis travelling abroad to prevent the spread of the polio virus, as Pakistan continues to be one of the few remaining countries where polio is still considered a threat. This aforementioned restrictions seem to be a last ditch effort by the public health agency to curb the spread of the virus from a country that has been unable to run a sustained inoculation campaign due to a variety of reasons which are better left unsaid. However, what I am concerned about more is the effect that these travel restrictions will have on Pakistani travellers who are already ...

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Forget polio, Pakistan is ‘BIGGER’ than India and size is all that matters!

A few days ago, a leading British newspaper carried a news story that stated: “The World Health Organisation certified the south-east Asian region – which includes India but excludes Afghanistan and Pakistan – polio-free after three years without a single new case being reported. The WHO said this meant 80% of the world’s population lived in polio-free regions, an important step towards global eradication of the crippling disease.” It is a massive coup for the people of India, for the people of those other countries now free of polio and for the world in general, for achieving an 80% eradication of the disease. ...

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Here is why breastfeeding your child is important

Hooray! The Balochistan Assembly finally enacted the Balochistan Protection and Promotion of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Bill 2014 on January 18, 2014. This is truly a progressive step towards a healthier province and a healthier Pakistan. However, the real test for the provincial government will be to effectively implement this bill, in letter and in spirit. I say this because, even though the Protection of Breastfeeding and Young Child Nutrition Ordinance 2002 is very much present on the statute books since its approval, its implementation  continues to remain a distant dream. As most of us know, Pakistan is not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal ...

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