Skin Diseases Surface in Khyber Agency
The skin disease, Leishmaniasis, which started spreading at the beginning of the last year, has now become an epidemic, as the number of patients facing the disease has crossed 1000.
The number of patients infected by leishmaniasis has increased rapidly in Khyber Agency, with nearly 1,300 cases reported in two months. Authorities fear the number of leishmaniasis cases may increase further if proper steps to control the infection are not taken.
No proper treatment is available at the local hospitals; there are no specialists present in the hospitals. Patients are facing severe health complications owing to shortage of required injections.
Exploiting the situation, the private medical stores are exploiting the situation by selling the injections at much higher rates. A leishmaniasis patient needs 21 injections for a complete cure from the high fever disease.
The skin disease is caused by the bite of a sand fly, which are common in most parts of Fata. The disease is easily transmitted to other members of a family when a sand fly bit a patient in a house and then the others. The local people alleged that health officials failed to conduct anti-insecticide spray in the affected areas of Khyber Agency despite their repeated requests.
Locals complain that many doctors are reluctant to come to the war hit Khyber agency. They said that the doctors request to go back to major cities, where their families are. Doctors who come along with their families are concerned about the education and security for their children.
According to Ministry of Health FATA, hospitals in the agency have around hundred different posts for doctors, where 68 are vacant for several years and only some doctors are working for the remaining 32 posts.
Fata health Services Director Dr Fawad Khan said Khyber, Orakzai, Bajaur and South Waziristan have been affected by leishmaniasis for the past 10 years.
“I am not aware of the recent increase in the number of cases in Khyber Agency, but we have provided all facilities to the agency surgeon and he has the authority to take any initiatives he considers necessary,” Khan said.
Leishmaniasis is endemic in 90 countries. There are 1–1.5 million cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis reported yearly worldwide, according to the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.