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Pakistan Does Not Have Vaccine for Monkeypox Prevention

The National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad has decided to procure vaccine for Monkeypox prevention from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The development comes after two individuals who had returned from Saudi Arabia were found to be infected with the disease, reported a national daily.

During a National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) meeting, which was held on Wednesday to discuss the situation with Monkeypox in the country, it was decided that a request would be made to the WHO for a significant amount of the Monkeypox vaccine.

The vaccine would be used to vaccinate healthcare providers and infectious diseases experts who would be on the frontlines to deal with confirmed and suspected cases of infectious disease.

After two individuals who arrived in Islamabad on April 17, 2023, from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were found to be infected with Mpox (Monkeypox), health institutions and establishments throughout Pakistan were put on high alert.

Isolation wards and filter clinics were established in major cities of the country, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar, to deal with any suspected cases of Monkeypox disease.

According to a Health Ministry official, the issue of Monkeypox cases was discussed in detail at the NCOC meeting on Wednesday at NIH Islamabad, where it was decided that a formal request would be made to the WHO for the provision of the Monkeypox vaccine.

The official stated that as per WHO and US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, persons who work in settings where they may be exposed to Mpox or orthopoxvirus in a laboratory, and healthcare workers who respond to orthopoxvirus and healthcare worker response teams, need to be vaccinated with a two-dose vaccine.

The official further added that the Monkeypox vaccine is not currently available, but now that the country has detected cases, it is important to have the vaccine to immunize vulnerable people and experts.

As of April 25th, 2023, a total of 87,113 laboratory-confirmed cases and 130 deaths have been reported to the WHO from 110 member states across all 6 WHO regions, according to the official.

The official gave details of the Monkeypox cases reported in the country. A very sick person who had been deported from Saudi Arabia for overstaying, landed in Islamabad on April 17, 2023, with high-grade fever, rashes, headache, muscle aches, and a sore throat.

He was advised to visit the Pakistan Institute of Islamabad (PIMS), where his samples were sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) on suspicion of being infected with Monkeypox. It was later confirmed that he was infected with the disease, and he was admitted to an isolation ward at PIMS.

Following the detection of two Monkeypox cases, airports across the country have been put on high alert, and airlines have been advised to report all suspected cases to the border health services department at the airports.

Meanwhile, all provincial health departments have started establishing isolation wards at major health facilities in their provincial capitals to admit suspected and confirmed Monkeypox cases.

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