MOHMAND AGENCY - The agency received a batch of 400 vials of medicine necessary for the treatment of leishmaniasis.

The medicine was arranged by Headquarters FC North, as a couple of weeks back, the Political Agent sought help of the IG FC North Major Gen Waseem Ashraf in arranging the injections required for the as many as 1,700 patients under treatment, 1,400 of the patients being children.

The leishmaniasis has got out of control as the number of affected persons has reached to 1,700 in the 3 tehsils of the agency, Political Agent Wasif Saeed informed journalists in Ghalanai on Thursday.

The most-affected areas in the tehsil Safi include Lakaro, Qandahari, Mamad Gat, Alingar, and areas of Haleemzai and Prang Ghar tehsils.

Agency Surgeon Dr Alamgir Khan said that leishmaniasis was caused by the bites of a kind of mosquito, sand fly, found in hilly areas, which usually breed in fresh water. He said that sand fly that had been transported from Europe to Pakistan stung on exposed portions of human body in morning and evening times and could fly up to 4 to 5 feet; thus children were the prime target of the sand fly.

Dr Alamgir further said that the administration had received complaints through social media regarding spread of leishmaniasis in the agency, after which, he said, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Fata Directorate of Health Services provided 250 ampoules of the required injections. He said that a special emergency treatment campaign had been conducted from April 14 to April 16 to administer first dose to the infected individuals, mainly minor children and toddlers.

Similarly, he said that the 2nd drive to administer the second dose to the patients had been launched in Agency Headquarters Hospital, Ghalanai, BHU Lakaro, RHC Ekkaghund, BHU Nawai Kalli, BHU Qandhari and BHU Mamad Gat from April 22nd and so far, a total of 687 patients had been registered and treated in the 2nd phase. The agency health department had requested Directorate of Health Fata to arrange a batch of 1,000 injections for subsequent administration to the patients, he added.

One of the officials of the local administration said that the vials had been provided keeping in view the scale of the epidemic and to ensure sustainable treatment to the patients and upon confirmation on telephonic conversation from Secretary Health KP Abid Majeed that provincial health department had a readily available stock of 2,000 injections. The agency surgeon said that the political agent had written a letter on April 24 to Secretary Health KP for grant of 100 vials on loan basis in the interest of the people of Mohmand Agency.

Political Agent Wasif Saeed said that the positive outcomes of the leishmaniasis vaccination campaign in Mohmand Agency had paved the way for similar campaigns in adjacent Khyber and Bajaur agencies. He added that drug for leishmaniasis was not available in the market and only the WHO had authorisation to provide the required injections for treatment of the patients.

Earlier, in April, upon request of the political administration, Fata secretariat had issued 250 injections and another 100 injections were arranged from KP government as a loan by the political administration but the said stock had been utilised by May 15th. By then, each patient had been administered 2 to 3 doses, arresting the toxicity and further spread of skin sores (lesions), but normally, an infected patient requires 3 to 8 doses depending on the type and extent of infection and age of the patient.

Glucantime, a prescribed drug for treatment of leishmaniasis, is provided only by the WHO. Therefore, sensing urgency, the political administration tried to get the drug arranged from other quarters. The help came from HQ Frontier Corps North, as the IG FC North Major Gen Waseem Ashraf committed to arrange around 400 vials of the preciously-rare Glucentime drug for the agency. The requisite stock has been received and treatment shall restart from Friday in designated health facilities.