Monday, December 17, 2007

Deadlines, Threats, And Ultimatums


# 1372



Charges of negligence, neglect, and even criminal behavior are being bandied about in Pakistan following the recent outbreaks of H5N1.  The finger pointing has likely just begun.


The picture this article paints is a disturbing one, not only for the people directly involved, but for the world as a whole.   Surveillance and rapid containment are the keys to preventing a global pandemic.  Both are practically non-existent in the NWFP (North-West Frontier Province) of Pakistan.


Sadly, the H5N1 virus is most prevalent in the areas of the world least able to deal with it.  


A hat tip to Crof of Crofsblog for this article  from The International News.  The bolding is mine.



Frontier seriously considering closing poultry business


By Mushtaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: The Caretaker NWFP Health Minister Syed Kamal Shah expressed his dismay over the ` continuous reluctance ' of the National Institute of Health (NIH) in providing the provincial government with reports regarding the bird flu victims.


Setting a 24-hour deadline to the NIH for releasing the report, he said that the institute's denial or delay would be taken as they were hiding the report for vested interests. Besides, Syed Kamal said that the NWFP government was seriously considering closing down the poultry business in the Frontier province.


The minister said 70 per cent of Pakistan's poultry industry was based in the two districts of the NWFP, including Abbottabad and Mansehra, which he felt had been posing serious threat to the lives of the local population.


It may be recalled that after the painful deaths of two young brothers, Muhammad Idrees and Muhammad Ilyas, at the Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) in Peshawar on October 19 and 29 respectively mainly because of the sheer negligence of the hospital administration as well as by the unresponsive attitude of the NIH authorities, three more patients suffering from bird flu virus were admitted to hospitals in Abbottabad and Peshawar.


In Ayub Medical Complex (AMC), Abbottabad, where two patients, Omar, 38, and a 10-year-old girl were admitted, doctors said their condition was stable and they were sent home.


Medical Superintendent AMC Dr Iftikhar, when reached on telephone, told The News one of them Omar was working at a poultry farm in Abbottabad while the girl was living in the vicinity of the farm.

Their blood samples had been sent to the NIH but the report is awaited, he said. Another patient Riaz Hussain, who belongs to the nearby Palosai town, was admitted to the KTH.


Dr Mukhtiar Zaman Afridi, who is a noted chest physician and in charge of Pulmonology ward of the hospital, when contacted on telephone said the patient was in a stable condition and his blood samples had been sent to the NIH. Also, he said the report was expected to be made available to them today (Monday)



He said the patient had been kept in an isolation room and was under his personal observation. However, during a visit to the hospital (KTH) on Sunday, a number of doctors and health workers complained to this correspondent that there was a mechanism to keep them safe from the virus but the ventilator of the isolation room where the patient had been kept was open and the virus could spread around in the entire hospital through air.


Also, this scribe found Dr Mukhtiar Zaman Afridi was removing fears from the mind of his staff created after the death of two brothers under their observation. Majority of doctors, paramedics and nurses were reluctant to go into the isolation room to attend the patient.


However, Dr Mukhtiar's lecture persuaded his staff to continue attending this altogether different patient. Despite being a public holiday, Dr Mukhtiar was seen present in the hospital from early morning to the evening where he regularly examined the patient.


It was dismal to note that the two isolation rooms where the two brothers were kept and later died were found locked by the hospital administration. Also, despite the passage of two weeks, the KTH administration has failed to ensure sterilisation of equipment used in attending the two brothers.