KARACHI: Noted Skin Specialist and Karachi Institute of Skin Diseases Director Dr Iqbal Nabi Soomro on Wednesday said that a rare skin disease leishmaniasis is rising on an epidemic level in Sindh-Baluchistan border areas while no vaccine is available for the treatment of patients.
Talking to PPI, Dr Iqbal Nabi Soomro said leishmaniasis cases are being reported from Dadu, Larkana, Winder and other hilly areas of Sindh and Baluchistan provinces for the last several weeks. He said leishmaniasis is transmitted by sand-fly which bites and injects the germs into the body of victims.
He explained that the sand-fly stings exposed parts of the human body. These flies are more active during the morning and evening and a small leishmaniasis skin infection or wound can become lethal with the passage of time if not properly managed.
He said leishmaniasis vaccines are not available all over the country for treatment to this skin problem. He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has added leishmaniasis vaccine in essential life-saving drug category but unfortunately, these vaccines are not available in the local market.
Dr Soomro said that all kind of diagnostic and consultation facilities are available at the Institute of Skin Diseases, Karachi, free of cost but vaccines are not available in Pakistan for the leishmaniasis patients and these are also not being imported from other countries for the treatment of skin diseases.
Another Skin Specialist Dr Qamar Iqbal Chandio said the disease affects all over the world particularly Africa, Central and South America, Asia and other countries.
He said the major reason of the epidemic was the free movement of people from Afghanistan to Pakistan and this interaction had resulted in the free mixing of people and had provided the chance of transmission of the disease.
He advised the people to report the cases immediately to the nearest hospital, use mates, coils and creams to repel the sand fly, and keep the wound clean and well dressed, use the sand fly bed nets, cover the exposed parts of the body with cloth during night and carry out insecticidal spray in and around the houses to avoid this skin problem.
However, a team of WHO visited the Karachi Institute of Skin Diseases to asses the overall situation and discussed vector control strategies. The team will also visit Sindh and Balochistan border areas for a comprehensive assessment of the situation.
According to WHO, an estimated 700,000 to 1 million new cases of leishmaniasis and 20,000 to 30,000 deaths are reported all over the world, annually.