ICMD, Feb 20, 2018 An outbreak of typhoid fever in Hyderabad is being caused by an extensively drug resistant “superbug” strain, a sign that treatment options for the bacterial disease are running out, scientists said on Tuesday. Researchers from Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute who analysed the genetics of the typhoid strain found it had mutated and acquired an extra piece of DNA to become resistant to multiple antibiotics. An outbreak of drug-resistant typhoid that began in Hyderabad in November 2016 is still spreading, according to experts from Aga Khan University who worked with the Sanger team. Official data on case numbers and deaths are not available, but local media reports say health authorities detected more than 800 cases of drug-resistant typhoid in Hyderabad alone in a 10-month period between 2016 and 2017. The researcher found the bacterial strain causing the outbreak is now resistant to five antibiotics in total, more than seen in any outbreak before. “This is the first time we have seen an outbreak of extensively drug-resistant typhoid,” said Elizabeth Klemm, who co-led the analysis work at the Sanger Institute. “This outbreak was caused by a multidrug-resistant strain that had gone a step further and acquired an extra piece of DNA encoding additional genes for antibiotic resistance.” Typhoid is a highly contagious infection caused by the Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi bacteria. It is contracted by consuming contaminated foods or drinks and symptoms include nausea, fever, abdominal pain and pink spots on the chest. Untreated, it can be fatal. Scientists at Aga Khan University anxious to find ways to tackle an ongoing outbreak there contacted the Sanger in the spring of 2017 and asked scientists there to genetically analyse samples. The team found it was being caused by a strain known as H58, which is already known to be linked to drug-resistant cases. Looking further, they found this H58 strain had gained an extra strand of bacterial DNA – a plasmid – that encoded for additional antibiotic resistance genes. The study’s results were published in the scientific journal mBio. Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at Britain’s Wellcome Trust global health charity, said the findings were a clear warning that “treatment options for typhoid are running out” and focusing on prevention was now vital. A new vaccine against typhoid was approved last month by the World Health Organisation and the GAVI global vaccine alliance said last year it had earmarked $85 million to help support the introduction of typhoid vaccines in poor countries. Previous research by Sanger scientists published in 2015 found that the H58 strain of typhoid first emerged in South Asia 25 to 30 years ago. It initially took hold in Asia and Africa before spreading around the world, becoming the dominant strain by 2015.
ICMD, Feb 18, 2018 A Karachi University’s student belonging to Bajaur Agency was found dead from Gulshan-e-Iqbal on Sunday. Police officials said that the deceased had gone missing on February 16 and later his body was found from Metrovill-III within the limits of Mobina Town Police Station. The body was shifted to Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth after medico legal formalities at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. The deceased was identified as Ahmed Shah, 22, by his friend namely Ahsanullah. One of the victim’s friends told the media that the deceased was a master’s student at the KU’s Zoology Department. “We talked over the phone on Friday night at around 10:30pm and since then he was missing,” he said, adding: “We tried to find him here and there and finally found him at the morgue.” The deceased used to live in a rented house along with his at least five friends belonging to his hometown. The friends after finding him dead informed the family about the incident. The family reached Karachi and received the body to take it to the hometown for burial process. Police officials said that no mark of bullet was found on the victim’s body, however, severe wound was found in his head. “No doubt that he was murdered and it seems that the victim was hit by an iron rod,” said Mobina Town SHO Hashim Billo. The police official said that the motive behind the murder was yet to be ascertained, adding the police had summoned his friends to record their statements. He added that police were also looking for their phone calls records. He said that a case had been registered on the behalf of the victim’s brother against unidentified persons while further investigation was underway. -- DT
ICMD, Feb 15, 2018 Former provincial minister Sharjeel Memon along with 11 others accused of embezzling almost Rs6 billion in Sindh’s Information Department have been indicted by an accountability court in Karachi on Thursday. Police presented Memon and 11 others before the court where the judge read out the individual crimes of all those present. All the suspects pleaded not guilty. The judge then indicted all 12 present. According to the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) reference, investigation was conducted regarding corruption and corrupt practices in awarding advertisements to television and FM radio channels concerning awareness campaign carried out by Sindh Information Department. Between July 2013 and June 2015, an amount of Rs5.76 billion was paid to seven advertisement agencies. The reference says that Memon illegally approved the release of official advertisements to the electronic media through so-called, pre-qualified advertising agencies without completing the due process. The investigation reveals that the advertising agencies paid lower prices to TV channels and claimed much higher amounts, even though they were entitled to just 15 per cent agency commission against the total bill. -- ET
ICMD, Feb 12, 2018 Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah on Sunday requested Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to consider giving iconic human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir a state funeral. Jahangir, 66, passed away in Lahore on Sunday afternoon after suffering a cardiac arrest. She collapsed while on a telephone call, discussing a meeting with a lawyer, and was rushed to a private hospital but could not survive. A doctor concerned at Hameed Latif Hospital told Dawn that she died of brain haemorrhage. She has left behind her husband, two daughters and a son. Her untimely demise was met with a national outpouring of grief and shock, and the Sindh CM announced that a day of mourning would be observed across the province. CM Shah, in a letter addressed to the PM, requested permission to fly the national flag at half-mast in the province on Feb 13, the day of her funeral, "in addition to our day of mourning". Jahangir, known for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit for human rights — as well as for remaining undaunted in the face of extreme pressure and opposition — will be remembered as a champion of the disenfranchised and for her services towards building a democratic and more inclusive Pakistan. The Pakistan Bar Council announced three days of mourning across the country starting on Monday. -- Courtesy Dawn
ICMD, Feb 10, 2018 Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) convener Dr. Farooq Sattar on Saturday offered his party’s coordination committee to draft a new mutually agreed upon list of four candidates for the upcoming Senate elections, vowing to visit the Bahadurabad stronghold of his intra-party rivals if his offer is accepted. Speaking to newsmen outside his residence in PIB Colony, Sattar backed down from his earlier demand of securing a Senate election ticket for his jeweller-turned-politician ally Kamran Tessori, saying: “This problem was never about Kamran Tessori, it was something else. “The committee had objected to Tessori's candidacy on February 7 and I had agreed to it right there and then but then I couldn’t go to see them and problems escalated. Now I offer to the coordination committee that let’s draft a new list of four mutually agreed upon candidates from the total of 15 candidates. We will drop the names of whoever is controversial. Sattar remained "hopeful of finding a solution" but said that even if his latest attempt at resolving the impasse fails then perhaps the party should skip the Senate elections. "If we can’t even do that then I would advise that 'let’s forget Senate seats and save the party,'" he said. -- DN
ICMD, Feb 9, 2018 Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Friday asked the Asian Development Bank (ADB) country director to share with him in 10 days a work plan for construction of an underground and a mezzanine floor for Bus Rapid Transit station at Numaish so that a decision can be taken on inauguration of work on the project. He made the request at a meeting with the ADB country director Xiaohong Yang. Mian Shaukat Shafi, the head of ADB’s Urban Unit, Education Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to CM Sohial Rajput, Education Secretary Iqbal Durani, Transport Secretary Saeed Awan, and Works Secretary Aijaz Memon were also present. Other projects that came under discussion were Supporting Public Private Partnership Investments in Sindh Province; the Proposed Sindh Education Sector Investment Programme; and ongoing and future energy and transport sector projects. Regarding the BRT terminal at Numaish, the ADB country director suggested that an underground and a mezzanine floor should be constructed at Numaish with provisions for a retail area. When the Chief Minister expressed his concern that revisions in design would extend the time needed to complete the project, Xiaohong Yang suggested that ADB engineers and experts could help the government with design and monitoring tasks. On this, Murad Ali Shah requested her to share a detailed report containing estimated cost and completion period with him in 10 days. The Chief Minister thanked the ADB for providing technical and financial support for implementation of the BRT corridor and for strengthening public-sector institutions and organisations in the province. On Friday, the chief minister also approved establishment of Karachi Bus Rapid Transit Company responsible for operation and maintenance of different lines. The BRT project’s preparatory technical assistance (PPTA) would build on feasibility studies for priority BRT corridors undertaken by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for Green and Red Lines, and the provincial government for the Yellow Line. Advance preparation activities undertaken under an ADP Cluster would also be utilised. The ADB has approved a $9.7 million Project Design Advance (PDA) loan for BRT project. Red Line: The ADB is also working on a 21.5 km long Red Line BRT that will start from Model Colony and will stop at the Jinnah International Airport, on University Road, at NIPA. Numaish will be the last stop in the Red Line route. The estimated cost of the project is $200 million. Education Sector: The ADB and School Education Department have identified three areas, including increasing access at secondary education level, improving teachers’ quality and capacity, and introducing examination reforms. Increasing Access at Secondary Level: This will involve support for strengthening government’s school education programmes such as Education Management Organisations (EMOs) programmes and programmes operated by Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) and improving public school infrastructure, including class rooms, laboratories and missing facilities such as drinking water, toilets and boundary walls. Teacher Quality: The Teacher Quality, Teacher Management and Accountability for Improved Secondary Education Outcomes (TQTMAISEO) involves support for programmes aimed at improving pre-and in-service teacher training, recruitment and placement; as well as measures to strengthen teacher performance assessment and accountability for education outcomes. Examination Reforms: This will involve support for improving the structure and design of secondary education examination system. The Chief Minister directed School Education Secretary Iqbal Durani to submit a concept paper with the ADB so that the project could be approved in a timely manner. Other projects that came under discussion included Enhancing Public Private Partnership. The P&D chairman briefed the chief minister and said the project envisaged strengthening capacity of government agencies for effective management of projects. It is a $184.13 million project in which ADB loan will be 54 percent, DFID grant would be 11 percent, while the provincial government’s share will be 35 percent. The chief minister approved release of Rs5 million to start the project. -- DT
ICMD, Feb 5, 2018 A nine-year-old girl in Thatta district was allegedly sexually assaulted as she was returning home from tuition on Sunday. The child's father said in the first information report (FIR) that the prime suspect had lured the girl into his shop in the Bilal Nagar locality in Dhabeji town with the help of a friend, where she was subjected to the assault. The girl was rushed to Gharo Taluka Hospital where an initial medical checkup by one Dr Rukhsana confirmed the assault, Mohammad Alam, a police official at the Dhabeji police station said. Both the prime suspect and his 'accomplice' have been arrested. The prime suspect has confessed to the crime, Dhabeji Station House Officer (SHO) Gul Hassan said, adding that the police are investigating whether his suspected accomplice also raped the minor. The SHO added that the FIR was registered under Sections 376 [Punishment for rape], 364-A [Kidnapping or abducting a person under the age of fourteen] and 34 [Acts done by several persons In furtherance of common intention] of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). -- Courtesy Dawn