In the plethora of issues that the Pakistani government has to deal with, the reemergence of bird flu is threatening to induce further complications. With the virus reaching Russia even, transmission seems to be taking on a formidable character. Instead of waiting to deal with the problem as it comes, we need a preventative strategy in place that protects the country from the imminent disaster that the bird flu, coupled with Covid-19, could bring.
While Pakistan has not yet experienced any cases of this new variant of the bird flu, H5N8, neighbouring countries seem to be elbow deep into the crisis. India and Iran reportedly culled over 1.4 million poultry birds to contain the transmission of the virus. Unfortunately, the virus seems to have been transmitted to humans as Russia has reported its first case. Clearly, there is an immediate need for precautionary measures to be implemented to protect the nation from the lethal combination of the coronavirus and bird flu.WHO to allocate 227M COVAX shots by end of May
Provincial governments, especially of Sindh and Balochistan, must aid poultry farmers so that disease surveillance is made possible. New laws must be enacted to facilitate routine inspections and enforce protocols for handling poultry along with standards of maintenance. Furthermore, a provision needs to be included that allows the respective governments to allocate funding for research and construction of diagnostic laboratories across the region. Only through such measures will we be able to evade the bird flu crisis completely and focus on eradicating the pandemic and all the hardships it has incurred—economic instability, unemployment, inflation and poor quality of life.
It is beyond our capacity to deal with another outbreak of virus that will threaten lives, businesses and the economy further—as the third wave is already doing. We cannot let it get to a point where we have to play catch up. The government must act diligently and strictly now to avoid a future plagued by intense restrictions and suffering.