Sir: Micro-cephalic babies developing in the womb of a mother is a great threat for human generation, and this crucial situation is produced by a notorious virus ‘Zika’. Zika virus is transmitted by mosquito and its infection causes a severe form of microcephaly. The brain of the baby may stop growing and be small and smooth, lacking the normal indentations.
The World Health Organization declared Zika as a “public health emergency of international concern’ and is worried that Zika is spreading far and fast, with devastating consequences. Zika virus proved experts right as the infection started from Africa, shifted to Latin America and now this unwanted guest is sitting in our neighbor i.e. India.
Pakistan is under great risk from Zika virus now than ever before. We are one of the countries that will be most vulnerable to this threat. There is couple of reasons that why Zika is now a concern for Pakistan to be addressed seriously.
Firstly, the Zika virus outbreaks (2017-2018) in our neighborhood (India) happened in the Rajasthan and Gujrat states of India which are bordering area of Sindh province of Pakistan. Secondly, the mosquito (Aedes aegypti) which transmits this notorious virus is already present in Pakistan and spreading Dengue and Chikungunya virus in Karachi and other cities.
The outbreaks in our neighborhood should serve as a reminder that Pakistan needs to take a more proactive role in addressing these kinds of threats before they come to Pakistan. As there is no treatment or vaccine for Zika infection, the only option is to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquito especially pregnant women. Federal government, particularly Government of Sindh should strengthen their ongoing vector control programs and reduce the mosquito population to save future generation of Pakistan from permanent mental disability.
MUHAMMAD UZAIR MUKHTAR
Published in Daily Times, December 26th 2018.