LAHORE - Too occupied with the blast at the Lahore Railway Station, Bhoja plane crash and the dengue mosquito, the Punjab Health Department completely ignored the World Malaria Day as neither the Health Department nor any organisation did any thing significant to mark the day that is observed globally, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to the World Health Organisation, Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by bites of infected mosquitoes. In 2010, malaria caused an estimated 655,000 deaths mostly among African children. However, malaria is preventable and curable. Even though, fortunately, the disease is not widespread in Pakistan but many cases are reported year. The WHO decided to observe the World Malaria Day in 2007 considering the importance of curbing malaria that poses a threat to human beings across the globe.
However, the Punjab Health Department completely ignored the event and only gave adds in the newspapers while no hospital or other organisation held any function or awareness seminar to educate the population about the severity of the disease and how to keep oneself safe from it.
“The government did not observe the World Malaria Day and it went totally unnoticed,” Pakistan Young Doctors’ Association General Secretary Dr Salmaan Kazmi said while talking to Pakistan Today, adding “Malaria is as common as typhoid. Just because it is not fatal people don’t panic and may be the government decided to ignore it too …otherwise many of the patients who visited hospitals with dengue symptoms are actually malaria patients but just because dengue epidemic is fatal and on a large scale, people don’t realise that malaria also needs to be curbed.”
Malaria is transmitted through the Anopheles female mosquitoes. The intensity of transmission depends on various factors related to the parasite, the vector, the human host, and the environment. Malaria is an acute illness. In a non-immune individual, symptoms appear seven days or more after the mosquito bite. Fever, headache, chills and vomiting are the initial symptoms which may be mild and difficult to recognise as malaria. However, if treatment is not given to the patient within 24 hours certain types of malaria can progress to severe illness often leading to death. Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms: severe anaemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria. In adults, multi-organ involvement is also frequent. In malaria endemic areas, persons may develop partial immunity, allowing asymptomatic infections to occur.
However, malaria is a curable and preventable disease. Medical experts believe that keeping away from mosquito is the best prevention. In urban centres people should use anti-mosquito sprays while in villages they should use mosquito nets to avoid malaria.
“We have been on the move for the past four days. First we went to PIMS and now all the officials are in Sialkot,” CM Special Assistant on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique said while talking to Pakistan Today, adding “our focus has shifted to the victims so that is why the day went unnoticed.”
Lahore Health EDO Dr Inamul Haq and Health Secretary Captain Arif Nadeem were not available for comments.