Sindh’s health minister wants the PMDC to change the date for its entrance exam as its falling on the eighth of Muharram.
Dr Azra Pechuho, the health and population welfare minister of the province, called a press conference on Tuesday to address this issue specifically.
Pakistan Medical and Dental Council’s entrance exam for medical and dental colleges and universities of Sindh is scheduled for September 8.
“The exam date coincides with the first of Muharram. It will be very difficult for students to sit the exam. Most won’t be able to travel to examination centres because of the law and order situation and mobile networks will also be down,” said Dr Pechuho.
The day itself falls on a Sunday. She said it was insensitive to expect Shia students observing Muharram to sit the exam. Dr Pechuho said she had asked the PMDC chairperson to change the date, but no official notification had been issued yet.
The test was to be held nationwide on August 25, according to policy. The PMDC, however, said admitting universities in Sindh had themselves requested to change the date due to resource constraints. Dr Pechuho says this was done as results of intermediate exams were awaited at the time.
Earlier, she had also criticised the PMDC’s decision to raise the minimum required score for eligibility to 70% marks in the intermediate exams.
Rise in diseases after the rains
The health minister apprised the media of the latest official statistics of infectious diseases in the province. She said a total of 29 Congo fever cases have been reported in Sindh. Out of these, 16 patients had died of the disease.
“The health department does not take preventive measures for Congo, the livestock department does. This year, we had a huge amount of sacrificial animals brought in from Balochistan that carried the virus,” said Dr Pechuho.
She said though spraying had been carried out, there might have been slippages. The rains might have also washed away some of the spray, she said. Congo cases are nearing their end, she said.
Naegleria fowleri, or the brain-eating amoeba, had also infected many people this summer. Dr Pechuho said there were a total of 12 cases in the province, which could be blamed on the lack of chlorination in public pools and water supplies.
Naegleria has no treatment or cure. The only way to prevent the disease is to ensure your water supply is chlorinated, wear nose plugs in swimming pools and refrain from splashing water up your nose.
Hordes of flies have pervaded Karachi ever since the rains. Dr Pechuho said flies have been breeding uncontrolled because of the garbage everywhere. She says patients are being admitted by the thousands everyday with gastrointestinal issues all over the province as a result of poor sanitation.
Speaking on the spike in dengue and malaria cases, the health minister said the Sindh government was working on establishing an integrated dengue and malaria programme. She also announced setting up a mechanism to have six-monthly meetings comprising heads of all departments to discuss health issues in a cross-sectoral manner.