Despite spike in dog bites, no vaccines at SMHS’ anti-rabies clinic

Despite spike in dog bites, no vaccines at SMHS’ anti-rabies clinic
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2400 cases at ARC in four months, JKMSCL dilly dallying on procuring vaccines

SRINAGAR: Even as the menace of dog bites has reached an alarming level in Kashmir, the Anti Rabies Clinic (ARC) at the SMHS Hospital has been without the vital anti-rabies vaccine for the last one month.
Official figures show a spike in dog bite cases at the ARC in recent months, with the central anti rabies clinic registering 2400 cases in four months of 2018.
The clinic which caters to almost 70 percent of total dog bite cases in Kashmir has received 161 such cases in last week between April 23 and April 30.
The month-wise data of the ARC shows 593 dog bite cases for January; 476 in Feb; 757 in March and 577 in April (till April 30 1 pm).
Almost 21 patients visit the clinic per day on average.
As per health officials, the figures show an increasing trend due to the absence of the effective birth control measures.
“The government has spent crores on the sterilization process of dogs by SMC but the menace of dog bites is still on the rise and is becoming a big threat to lives of people in Kashmir,” an official said.
Despite the alarming rise in cases of dog bites, the government is yet to devise a concrete policy to address the menace.
Dr Muhammad Salim Khan, Head, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (SPM), Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar told Kashmir Reader that the ARC was without anti-rabies vaccines for last one month as Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation (JKMSC) has failed to procure the drug despite huge patient rush.
“Patients are facing huge inconvenience because there is no vaccine available in the hospital. It is due to the callous approach of medical supplies corporation which is yet to procure the drug despite huge funds allocated for it,” he said.
Dr Khan said that Health Department had released Rs 20 lakh in favour of JKMSC last year for procuring the vaccine. However, he said, the tendering process has not been started by the corporation.
“Patients have to bear the extra burden on their own pockets because they have to get it from the open market. We are trying to convince the corporation to transfer the money to GMC Srinagar so that procurement is done immediately,” he said.
Sources said the district and sub-district hospitals also run short of Anti Rabies Vaccine (ARV).
“Lack of vaccine leads to deaths due to acute rabies as the virus spreads through the central nervous system, progressive, fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops,” they said.
Data provided by SMC shows there is a dog for every 13 humans in Kashmir.
Commissioner SMC Riyaz Wani said that the process of sterilizing dogs was going on and they were able to control population to a large extent.
“I don’t know the exact figures but I am sure about the decrease in dog population since the sterilizing process has been stared,” he said.