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Measles outbreak kills 157 children in Badakhshan



(Last Updated On: February 19, 2022)

More than 150 children died following the outbreak of measles in northeastern Badakhshan province, local officials said Friday.

According to the official, 117 children in the Kuf Ab district and 40 others in Darwazi Bala (Nusay) district died of measles in the past few days.

“At least 117 children died from measles diseases in 22 villages of [ Kuf Ab district],” a member of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) told Ariana News.

Most of the children who died were living in areas with no access to health services.

Provincial officials, meanwhile, have sent health teams and medicine to help local health workers to contain the outbreak.

Provincial Governor Deputy Mawlawi Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi stated that a health facility will be built for both Kuf Ab and Darwazi Bala districts early next year.

“People are dealing with too many problems here; I raised health services including building a hospital here to the health officials from the Center and Agha Khan who visited Badakhshan province; In spring the hospital would be inaugurated in order to resolve issues of the people here,” Ahmadi said.

Qari Nazir, Head of Badakhshan Public Health Directorate, said: “[We brought] 48 medicine boxes including injections and medical kits for 90,000 to 100,000 people.”


Pig heart transplanted into human patient for the second time



(Last Updated On: September 23, 2023)

Surgeons have transplanted a pig’s heart into a dying man in a bid to prolong his life – only the second patient to ever undergo such an experimental feat. Two days later, the man was cracking jokes and able to sit in a chair, Maryland doctors said Friday.

The 58-year-old Navy veteran was facing near-certain death from heart failure but other health problems meant he wasn’t eligible for a traditional heart transplant, according to doctors at University of Maryland Medicine, the Associated Press reported.

“Nobody knows from this point forward. At least now I have hope and I have a chance,” Lawrence Faucette, from Frederick, Maryland, said in a video recorded by the hospital before Wednesday’s operation. “I will fight tooth and nail for every breath I can take.”

While the next few weeks will be critical, doctors were thrilled at Faucette’s early response to the pig organ.

“You know, I just keep shaking my head – how am I talking to someone who has a pig heart?” Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the transplant, told The Associated Press. He said doctors are feeling “a great privilege but, you know, a lot of pressure.”

The same Maryland team last year performed the world’s first transplanet of a genetically modified pig heart into another dying man, David Bennett, who survived just two months.

There’s a huge shortage of human organs donated for transplant. Last year, there were just over 4,100 heart transplants in the U.S., a record number but the supply is so tight that only patients with the best chance of long-term survival get offered one.

Attempts at animal-to-human organ transplants have failed for decades, as people’s immune systems immediately destroyed the foreign tissue. Now scientists are trying again using pigs genetically modified to make their organs more humanlike.

Recently, scientists at other hospitals have tested pig kidneys and hearts in donated human bodies, hoping to learn enough to begin formal studies of what are called xenotransplants.

To make this new attempt in a living patient outside of a rigorous trial, the Maryland researchers required special permission from the Food and Drug Administration, under a process reserved for certain emergency cases with no other options.

It took over 300 pages of documents filed with FDA, but the Maryland researchers made their case that they’d learned enough from their first attempt last year – even though that patient died for reasons that aren’t fully understood – that it made sense to try again.

And Faucette, who retired as a lab technician at the National Institutes of Health, had to agree that he understood the procedure’s risks.

In a statement his wife, Ann Faucette, said: “We have no expectations other than hoping for more time together. That could be as simple as sitting on the front porch and having coffee together.”

What’s different this time: Only after last year’s transplant did scientists discover signs of a pig virus lurking inside the heart – and they now have better tests to look for hidden viruses. They also made some medication changes.

Possibly more important, while Faucette has end-stage heart failure and was out of other options, he wasn’t as near death as the prior patient.

By Friday, his new heart was functioning well without any supportive machinery, the hospital said.

“It’s just an amazing feeling to see this pig heart work in a human,” said Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, the Maryland team’s xenotransplantation expert. But, he cautioned, “we don’t want to predict anything. We will take every day as a victory and move forward.”

This kind of single-patient “compassionate use” can provide some information about how the pig organ works but not nearly as much as more formal testing, said Karen Maschke, a research scholar at the Hastings Center who is helping develop ethics and policy recommendations for xenotransplant clinical trials. That FDA allowed this second case “suggests that the agency is not ready to permit a pig heart clinical trial to start,” Mashke added.

The pig heart, provided by Blacksburg, Virginia-based Revivicor, has 10 genetic modifications – knocking out some pig genes and adding some human ones to make it more acceptable to the human immune system.

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Bayat Foundation officially opens new Maternity & Neonatal Hospital in Kabul



(Last Updated On: September 17, 2023)

Bayat Foundation on Sunday inaugurated a Maternity and Neonatal Hospital on the campus of Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul and officially handed over the facility to the health ministry.

Bayat Foundation officials say the aim of establishing the hospital is to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates.

Dr. Ehsanullah Bayat, Chairman of the Bayat Foundation, said at the ceremony that according to statistics, three million mothers and children have been treated at hospitals built by the foundation across the country.

“Bayat Foundation hopes that the Ministry of Public Health will pay serious attention to procurement, required professional personnel and other requirements for the normal operation of the hospital and provide services to mothers and babies in need that are on a par with regional and world standards,” said Dr. Bayat.

The new hospital comprises four floors that cover an area of 3,200 square meters and cost 296 million AFN. It is also equipped with modern medical equipment, officials said.

“On the occasion of the completion of this four-story hospital, which was completed with an estimated investment of 296 million afghanis, I would like to thank Bayat Foundation,” said Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi, the administrative deputy prime minister.

Meanwhile, Qalandar Ebad, the acting minister of health said at the ceremony that maternal and infant mortality rates have dropped in the country in the past two years.

Ebad said that the ministry has plans to provide health services in all provinces.

Islamic Emirate’s officials meanwhile also thanked Bayat Foundation for their assistance in various sectors including health, social and humanitarian sectors.

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AFDA orders quality control tests on all imported food and drugs



(Last Updated On: September 6, 2023)

Afghanistan Food and Drug Authority (AFDA) says foodstuff and medicines will only be allowed to enter the country through customs once quality control tests have been carried out. 

Abdul Bari Omar, Director of AFDA, said in a meeting in Kabul that one of the goals of this department is to provide people with access to better quality food, and standard drugs.

Omar also said that in the near future, the export of medicine from Afghanistan to countries abroad will start soon. He said the authority has also developed a procedure that prevents the smuggling of medicines into the country.

AFDA officials added that over the past 18 months, they have issued licenses to 10 factories and destroyed more than 342 tons of low-quality food.

According to AFDA, during this period, there has been a serious fight against drug smuggling, and laboratories will also start working to separate halal from haram.

In addition, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Qudratullah Jamal said at the meeting that Afghanistan now manufactures 50 different medicines and the hope is that this figure will total 100 by the end of the year. 

He has asked businessmen and investors to invest in the pharmaceutical industry in the country.

The people of Afghanistan meanwhile spend $500 million annually on medical treatment abroad due to the poor standard of healthcare across the country.

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