Friday, March 26, 2010

Drop in pollen count is only temporary, expert warns

The free Pollen Allergy Relief Camp established by the chief commissioner of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) started off on Friday with over 100 patients being examined within the first two hours. Patients started reaching the camp, as early as 7 a.m., hoping to obtain free and effective medications.

Although pollen counts were relatively low on Thursday and Friday, patients still visited the camp to get medications well in time before resurgence of pollen allergy. The counts recorded yesterday — less than 5,000 pollens of paper mulberry per cubic metre — were at an all-time low for this time of the year.

Dr. Osman Yusuf, the chief consultant to the camp, explained that since there has been a noticeable climate change this year, therefore paper mulberry trees were predicted to pollinate erratically. While patients heaved a sigh of relief that the counts have fallen, Dr. Osman warned that this drop may be only temporary. The pollens need proper rainfall and temperature to mature. 

The Pakistan Meteorological Department has forecast rain for Friday night and Monday. If it does rain, as predicted, then pollens will begin to rise 2 to 3 days after receiving strong sunshine. So there is a danger of a rise in paper mulberry pollen counts in the last days of March, and early April. Dr. Osman also feared a third peak of paper mulberry in mid-April. This peak, he suspected, would be in the cooler northern sectors of Islamabad, like F-6, F-7 and E-7.

While talking to this scribe about the types of patients visiting the camp, Dr. Osman said that the majority of the patients does not comprise victims from pollen allergy but of chronic allergies, asthma or Coronary Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a chronic inflammation of the lungs caused by cigarette smoke. 

While most of the medicines being provided at the camp are donations, Dr. Osman noted with concern that some people who promise large sums of money or donations to gain media attention, do not actually fulfill their commitment. One leading chemist of Islamabad promised to donate Rs100,000 but in fact contributed much less, and sent over-invoiced bills to show that he had made the stated donation. Two leadings chemists, Shaheen Chemists and Waheed Medicos, are the only ones to have donated 700 inhalers to the camp, and have lived up to their commitment. The Allergy and Asthma Institute, Pakistan, has donated spacer devices, literature, printed material and back-up supplies to the camp. Various other pharmaceutical agencies have donated all types of medicines which are being provided to the patients. Another private sector hospital promised to provide doctors and a large donation to the camp, but these are still awaited.

Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, director of ICT, is taking keen interest in the camp and is continuously coordinating with Dr. Osman, Dr. Amirzada, DHO and Shafiq Khan, camp coordinator. The doctors who are working non-stop, even beyond the camp timings, to accommodate maximum patients include Dr. Faizullah Talpur, Dr. Fawad Khalid Khan, Dr. Tawaf Gul Orakzai, Dr. Tahira Aziz, Dr. Zartaja Tawaf and Dr. Mansoor. Each of these doctors has been specially trained in management of severe pollen asthma and allergy. 

The camp management had decided to change the timings of the camp so that patients are saved from excessive exposure to pollens; however, since this change was not well-publicised, patients faced slight difficulty in the morning on Friday, but the matter was sorted out through the timely intervention of director ICT. It has now been decided that this year, the camp timings will remain from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m., but in future, will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., so that patients can return indoors before the pollen counts rise.

Dr. Osman also advised that if the pollen counts remained low this year, and if the CDA remained ineffective in removing the notorious paper mulberry trees, the pollen counts in spring 2011, will be much higher than the current year. 

No comments:

Post a Comment