Voice of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Monday, September 26, 2022

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to face five major challenges

The Khyber PakhtunKhwa government is currently focused on controlling corona pandemic, where government is ensuring various steps to control its spread. However, Khyber PakhtunKhwa province is likely to face few other challenges in upcoming weeks which can further worsened the situation if not responded timely.

According to experts, a prompt response will protect the province from adverse effects of these challenges; but a delay or late response can cause significant damage.

The real and current concern for the federal and the provincial health authorities is the growing number of confirm cases in KP. KP crossed the figure of 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in less than a month and there is no let-up in such cases.

More than 50 deaths have been reported from the relatively small province (35.5 million populations) of the country so far and most of these deaths are caused through virus transmission from those people, who had returned from other countries or were the members of the Tableeghi Jamaat.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Minister for Finance & Health Taimur Khan Jhagra in a tweet admitted KP was becoming the new epicentre of virus as 10 persons died of the virus during last 24 hours on Monday.

Four deaths occurred only in Peshawar. Four deaths were reported from Swat, one each in Abbotabad and Mardan,” the minister further said in the tweet on Sunday.

But despite the rapid spread of virus the cabinet has allowed the religious gatherings at mosques and such gatherings are likely to play its role in the spread of Covid19 in the province.

The second and most alarming challenge in the KP is return of polio to the province. Pakistan was very near to completely eradicate polio but unfortunately, KP on a single day has reported 13 new polio cases, the largest the province has ever seen in a day. These cases are mostly called circulating vaccine derived poliovirus.

Today, polio remains endemic in just three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria (which has not reported a case in three years). The year 2019, however, has seen the disease bounce back, with at least 125 cases reported, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). The vast majority, 111 cases have been reported from Pakistan, mostly in KP.

The government should be more proactive on the polio vaccination and should conduct vaccination alongwith awareness campaign in order to convince the parents of children for vaccination amid the Covid19 otherwise we will not be able to eliminate polio in coming 10 years.
The third challenge KP is likely to face is the possible outbreak of Dengue fever, dengue had emerged repeatedly in various districts of KP province since 2008. Most importantly the outbreak of 2017, caused 70 deaths, about 121,083 suspected and 24,938 confirmed cases in 23 districts of KP.

But in 2018-19, an abrupt decline in suspected and confirmed dengue cases was observed and 2018 was declared as dengue outbreak free. The abrupt decline in number of cases was due to Health Department alertness and timely precautionary measures. Precautionary measures were ensured well ahead of the dengue peak season that helped in limiting the outbreak in KP province.

In order to avoid any huge threat, the government should establish Information desks at district and tehsil level which will help in prevention of dengue outbreak in province. The uniformed flow of information and coordinated control measures from information desk such as case definition, management strategy, spray and fogging timing, and vector surveillance grossly will also help in successful control.

The fourth and the most challenging of all the crisis is joblessness in the province. 1.3 million people have lost their jobs in KP during the last three weeks. A report of the Planning and Development Department said that the fields of hotels and transport have been affected the most from the lockdown, in which 550,000 and 360,000 people have lost their jobs, respectively.

The KP government is doing much to protect the jobless people from any food or health crisis but the government lacks the requisite resources to fully respond to the situation. If the situation persists, this can become a nightmare for a poor province like KP.

The last challenge which KP is likely to face is the shortage of food products. The locusts are threatening the crops which is likely to affect wheat production. It may trigger food shortage in the province, increasing commodity prices and further affecting the poor. The government need to assess the situation frequently to ensure basic commodity easy availability in the markets.

It is pertinent to mention that the KP government in start of March had imposed emergency in 9 districts under Section 16(A)1 of the Disaster Management (KP) Act applicable to the extent of proactive and reactive measures of the agriculture, livestock and cooperative department for locust control, including protection through sprays and other containment measures.

In order to avoid the possible shortage of food from agriculture sector, the provincial government should approve an emergency fund and must launch a mass scale awareness campaign for educating the local farmers to avoid the crisis.

The Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government has a lot at hands right now and if the looming challenges are not dealt with an effective and timely decisions. The situation can go from bad to worst. Therefore, there is a need to activate the necessary departments well in advance to respond within time to avert the coming crises.

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