50% world population at risk of vector-borne diseases


Karachi: Fifty percent of the world population is at risk of Vector Borne Diseases (VBD) and these diseases accounts for more than 17 percent of all infectious diseases causing more than 1 million deaths annually.
These views were expressed by experts at an awareness seminar on World Health Day 2014 organised by Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) at its Ojha Campus on Saturday. The theme of World Health Day 2014 is Preventing and controlling vector borne diseases. 
The seminar aims to highlight public health issues which are of public importance and to create awareness among the educated youth of the society to share preventive messages for their community.
More than 2.5 billion people in over 100 countries are at risk of contracting dengue alone. Pakistan has been experiencing an epidemic of dengue fever since 2010 resulting in deaths. There is need to provide technical support and guidance to countries that can effectively manage cases and outbreaks. 
Ex-Principle of Dow Medical College & Chief Guest Prof Illahi Bux Soomro stressed the need of adopting preventive strategy to control vector borne diseases. 
He said that this year world health day campaign advocates for health authorities in countries where vector-borne diseases are a public health problem or emerging threat, to put in place measures to improve surveillance and protection.
Pro-Vice Chancellor, DUHS Prof Umar Farooq informed that its a government duty to provide contusive environment. He also pledged to make all out sincere individual and collective efforts in the society for creating awareness among general public regarding vector borne disease and other ailments.
Dr Kashif Shafique, while speaking on introduction and burden of vector borne diseases said that malaria causes more than 600,000 deaths every year globally, most of them children under 5 years of age. WHO estimates there may be more than 100 million dengue infections worldwide every year. About 2.5 percent of those affected patients die.
He revealed that since 2010, Pakistan has been experiencing an epidemic of dengue fever that has caused 16,580 confirmed cases and 257 deaths in Lahore and nearly 5,000 cases and 60 deaths reported from the rest of the country. 
He said three provinces facing the epidemic are Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. With an estimated burden of 1.5 million cases annually, Pakistan has been categorized by WHO in the Group 3 countries of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, along with Afghanistan, Djibouti, Somalia, he added. 
He said poorest of the poor in vulnerable communities living in remote rural areas with limited access to health facilities, suffer the most. 
He said these diseases affect urban, semi-urban and rural communities but thrive predominantly among communities with poor living conditions particularly lack of access to adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation. 
He stressed the need of joint efforts to inform your community about vector borne disease and to provide the best evidence for controlling vectors and protecting people against infection.
He further said that considering the importance of public health the university is playing its due role for creating public awareness and preventive measure. 
Dr Akhtar Baloch said that dengue is a dangerous illness, it can cause much suffering, and in some cases death. In November 2011, dengue has killed over 300 people in the last several months and over 14,000 are infected by this mosquito born disease. Majority of the people infected are from the Lahore area in Punjab, Pakistan. 
Prof Shaheen Sharafat, Speaking on malaria challenges in diagnosis, said education of health workers and communities about malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment is a vital component of effective case management, especially as diagnostic policies change. Preventing resistance emerging to insecticides used in vector control remains an ongoing challenge in an era of changing malaria epidemiology. 

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