Northwest Pakistan faces shortage of anti-snake venom vaccines due to stoppage of import from India


Peshawar (PTI) – The health facilities in northwest Pakistan are facing a shortage of anti-snake venom vaccines as its import from India has stopped following strained relations between the two neighbouring countries, according to the provincial health minister.

Taimur Saleem Jhagra, the health minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said this during question hour in the provincial assembly session on Friday.

The Jamaat-e-Islami lawmaker Humaira Khatoon had complained of shortage of anti-snake vaccines in the hospitals of the province.

In response, the minister said, “We import these vaccines from India which had been stopped due to stress in the diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

He said the vaccine would be provided to all the hospitals in the province after obtaining data from them.

Pakistan in 16 months till July last year imported anti-rabies and anti-snake venom vaccines worth of Rs 2.65 billion from India.

Pakistan is largely dependent on India for import of anti-rabies and anti-snake venom vaccines as the National Institute of Health lacks the capacity of manufacturing the vaccines according to the demand in the country.

Trade relations between India and Pakistan were strained following the Pulwama terror attack in February last year as India imposed 200 per cent customs duty on all goods imported from the neighbouring nation.

Pakistan formally suspended its trade relations with India after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August last year.

India revoked Article 370 to withdraw the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the region into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

In reaction to India’s move, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India by expelling Indian High Commissioner and announced that it would also suspend trade relations with New Delhi.

India has said Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and the issue was strictly internal to the country.

Pakistan also suspended the import of Indian goods under the Pak-Afghan transit treaty.

Later, according to some reports, Pakistan was planning to lift the ban on the import of life-saving drugs, but it is not clear whether the decision was implemented.

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