Diarrhea Claims 110 Children Daily in Pakistan

According to a recent report, Pakistan is witnessing a significant health crisis, with an estimated 110 children succumbing to diarrhea every day. This alarming statistic is a result of over one million cases of diarrhea occurring each month. The tragic loss of these young lives could be prevented with the timely administration of zinc supplements.

A seminar focusing on the “Significance of Zinc for Health” was recently held in Karachi. The event was jointly organized by the Pakistan Zinc Society and a local pharmaceutical entity. Distinguished speakers at the seminar included Professor Nadeem Qamar, Executive Director of Cardiology, Haroon Qasim, Managing Director of the local pharmaceutical company Pharmavo, Chief Operating Officer Nadeem Rahmat, and other experts.

The medical authorities emphasized the significance of WHO pre-qualified zinc product manufacturing plants in Pakistan. This development marks a substantial step towards reducing dependency on foreign pharmaceutical products. It is expected to enable both domestic and international companies to access zinc products more affordably through local firm Pharmivo, subsequently conserving valuable foreign exchange and, most importantly, helping safeguard more children’s lives by preventing diarrhea-related deaths.

Dr. Abdul Bari Khan commended the WHO’s pre-qualification of zinc medications produced by a Pakistani firm as a highly positive advancement for the nation. He noted that after the devastating floods in Sindh and Balochistan last year, millions of children suffered from diarrhea, with many lives saved by providing them with zinc supplements1. These supplements are a crucial means to protect children from diarrhea and malnutrition.

He emphasized that UNICEF and other international donor agencies often purchase zinc products from multinational pharmaceutical companies. However, the recent WHO pre-qualification of a local plant means these products can now be procured at a fraction of the previous cost, enabling more extensive distribution throughout the country.

During the seminar, Mr Khan encouraged the pharmaceutical industry to also focus on local production of medications for tuberculosis, HIV, and cancer. He highlighted that international organizations like the Global Fund spend millions of dollars on the purchase of these drugs from international pharmaceutical giants. By locally manufacturing these drugs, Pakistan can retain this significant foreign exchange.

Dr. Khan disclosed that Pakistani pharmaceutical companies managed to export drugs and products amounting to $713 million the previous year. With these recent developments, it is anticipated that Pakistani product exports may reach one billion dollars, marking a notable achievement.

He stressed the preventability of most diarrhea-related deaths, highlighting the importance of ensuring clean water, oral rehydration solutions (ORS), and zinc supplements for children suffering from diarrhea.

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