The halt in the supply of cheaper anti-rabies vaccine from India and China has led to an acute shortage of the life-saving drug in Pakistan’s Sindh province as it grapples with increasing incidents of dog bites, an official said.
Naseem Salahuddin, Director of the Rabies Free Karachi Programme, said that there is a big difference in the price of the vaccine imported from India as compared to the one purchased from other countries.
The vaccine imported from India costs Rs 1,000 (USD 6) whereas the drug imported from Europe costs a whopping Rs 70,000 (USD 446), the official said, adding that this life-saving drug is only available in the government hospitals in the country.
The shortage or absence of the anti-rabies vaccine has been witnessed in government hospitals in the Sindh province, including its capital Karachi as imports of the vaccine from India has stopped in recent months, while its import from China has been suspended.
It is not clear whether Pakistan stopped the import of the anti-rabies vaccine from India due to bilateral tensions after New Delhi scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August.
There has been an increase in the number of stray dogs on the streets of Karachi in recent months, while in the past weeks, some 130 cases of dog bites have been reported from different parts of the province.
On Monday night, at least 12 people, including a police sub-inspector, in Karachi were admitted to hospital after a pack of stray dogs attacked them.
According to media reports, over USD 36 million of anti-rabies and anti-venom vaccines have been imported by Pakistan from India in the last 16 months due to lack of manufacturing capacity in the country.