Monday March 19, 2018
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Deaf-mute Geeta, stuck in Pakistan for 13 years, arrives in Delhi


New Delhi: Geeta, a deaf-mute Indian woman who had been stranded in Pakistan for over a decade, arrived in New Delhi on Monday accompanied by five members of Edhi Foundation, a social welfare organisation, who had been generously looking after her since 2003.

Geeta – whose heartrending story bears an uncanny resemblance to that of a character named ‘Munni’ in the Bollywood blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan – was unable to return home, for she could not remember or explain where she was actually from.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the members of Edhi Foundation will be treated as state guests.Geeta

“On October 26, 2015, we will be bringing Geeta back to India. Together with Geeta, we have invited five officials of the Edhi Foundation,” Swarup had said on Friday.

He said that Geeta has already identified one family as possibly being that of her parents.

“We will be doing DNA testing to establish conclusive proof. If the DNA tests match, Geeta will be handed over to that family. If not, we have identified suitable institutions where she will be looked after,” Swarup said.

He said on the institutions identified are in Delhi and Indore.

Bilkis Edhi’s grandson Fahad said,  “She will be accompanied by me, my father Faisal Edhi, my mother and my grandmother Bilqees Edhi…We are going with her because she recognised the family in the photograph sent to us by the Indian High Commission as her family. But DNA tests will confirm this.”Geeta

The Express Tribune reported, Geeta took with her all the gifts she received in the past few years – including a gold-jewellery set from Bilquis Edhi, a silver-jewellery set from Faisal Edhi on Raksha Bandhan and a gold chain with a pendant that bears her name.

“We have also packed some dresses for her to wear on Diwali next month,” said Saba Edhi.

In a bid to express her gratitude to the people of Pakistan, Geeta used the sign language to say she felt blessed to be in that country, as translated by her instructor Ishrat Shaheen.

“She will never forget how much love and respect Pakistan has given her.”

Geeta also promissed to keep in touch with her instructor and friends via internet video chat.Geeta

Geeta, now in her early 20s, was around 11 years old when she inadvertently crossed the border to Pakistan.

In 2003, Geeta — then 11 years old — was spotted by the Pakistan Rangers in Lahore, and handed over to the Edhi Foundation. Bilquis Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation, has named her Geeta.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

Also Read: With Medicine Running Out, Venezuelans With Transplant Live in Fear

According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS