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29 Nov 22 81 0 0

Malaria Outbreak: Pakistan Orders Mosquito Nets from India Turning Blind Eye to Local Options

Cool Story - Malaria Outbreak: Pakistan Orders Mosquito Nets from India Turning Blind Eye to Local Options

This year's floods in Pakistan was catastrophic on many levels, including the loss of homes and livelihoods for individuals and families, the submergence of farms, the loss of crops and livestock, and the disruption of the industry.

This further increased inflationary pressures practically everywhere else in conjunction with rising gasoline and food prices and foreign markets seeking safety in the American currency. Similar to how the rivers appear endless and unyielding, so are the numerous difficulties that the Pakistani people and its leaders are currently confronting.

I have worked in Pakistan for almost ten years, and during that time I have never considered it to be the most predictable or simple of places. However, I have grown to appreciate its people's vibrancy and curiosity, as well as the fact that, when interests are aligned, things there can occur at an amazing scale and pace.

It is distressing to see the current state of affairs and the prospect of a protracted time of unprecedented misery for millions of Pakistanis. Every ally of the nation should double down and pull every trigger to have their destiny steered toward the safer ground and better times.

I am involved in the creation and production of products that fight malaria. When the floods first occurred, it was obvious right away that there would be a significant increase in mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and dengue fever due to the amount of water and the large number of people left homeless.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of illnesses increased significantly in August and September, with hundreds of thousands more cases than the previous year (WHO). Hospitals in hard-hit areas reported a 30-fold rise in malaria admissions in October, and the great National Malaria Program's successes had already been completely undone.

Following the flood, illnesses will claim the lives of many more people than the flood itself. The sadness is effectively doubled by the fact that many mosquito-transmitted disease deaths are preventable.

At first, I had hoped that organizations established and funded with the express intent of battling these diseases would step forward and join the effort immediately. In September, the Global Fund authorized emergency funds for an additional $18 million for the purchase of 6 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets to acknowledge "the country's urgent and severe requirements." These nets undoubtedly would have provided relief, saved disease and death, and freed up space in Pakistan's overcrowded hospitals.

The same insecticidal nets are manufactured by a WHO-prequalified certified and monitored company in Pakistan. More than 100 million of these nets, purchased by foreign donors, have already been distributed by this producer to individuals at risk of malaria in Africa and other malaria-prone countries. Instead, The Global Fund ordered the nets from already-busy Indian producers, and they won't arrive until March of the following year, according to reports.

These 6 million locally produced nets would already be the first line of protection for those who have already lost their livelihoods and are now being attacked by billions of disease-carrying mosquitoes. There is little question that delaying the distribution until well into next year will result in the needless deaths of thousands of people and the agony of countless others.

The quality of Pakistani-made insecticide-treated nets is not a concern for the Global Fund. The WHO has endorsed the usage of the production facility and the products; in fact, the nets are the only ones of this type currently listed with Pakistan's DRAP, the national regulatory body.

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