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Outbreak of XDR typhoid in Sindh prompts int’l bodies to issue ‘travel advisories’

KARACHI:  The outbreak of a drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid in Sindh has prompted international bodies to issue unofficial travel advisories to people intending to visit Pakistan especially Sindh.

According to a report in dailyThe News International, the international bodies have started issuing unofficial travel advisories to people to either refrain from travelling to Pakistan, especially to Sindh or take extraordinary precautionary measures for having safe food and water.

The report while quoting health department officials said that the XDR typhoid cases have surpassed the 8,000 figure.

The report said that cases are being reported from Karachi, followed by Hyderabad, Sanghar and the adjoining districts.

Dr Zafar Mehdi of the Sindh Health Department told the newspapers that only four people — three children and an elderly person — have died due to XDR typhoid in the province since its outbreak was reported from Hyderabad in November 2016.

The official said that the department was taking all the measures to contain the outbreak, and in this regard, international health bodies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) were also on board.

However, the newspaper while quoting unmanned experts associated with local health care facilities and international health agencies said that over a dozen deaths have occurred in Sindh, including Karachi, mainly due to the inexperience of doctors treating the disease.

Sindh’s health officials have said that major international health bodies, including the WHO and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, are on high alert following the outbreak of the deadly disease.

The Sindh Health Department is under tremendous pressure from the federal health authorities and the international health bodies, as XDR typhoid cases are being reported in the United Kingdom and the United States among travellers returning from Pakistan.

Acknowledging that XDR typhoid is spreading rapidly in Sindh, especially in Karachi, WHO representatives in the province said that they are keeping in touch with the health department and providing them with technical and material support to contain the outbreak, even though cases of the drug-resistant strain are being reported from the entire country.

“A national action plan has been formulated with the focus on Sindh, from where most of the XDR typhoid cases are being reported,” said Dr Sara Salman, a WHO representative in Sindh. “Being a technical body, the WHO is providing technical support, which includes training to contain this outbreak as quickly as possible.”

To a question regarding the absence of diagnostic facilities in Sindh’s public sector, she said that a private health facility, namely the Aga Khan University Hospital, had first identified and reported this outbreak, and now a public-private partnership has developed in the province to control and contain this disease by pooling all the resources at hand.