By: FAIZA ILYAS
KARACHI: Disability caused by congenital disorder can be prevented in many cases if expectant mothers exercise caution in the use of medicines, avoid exposure to electromagnetic radiation, harmful substances and protect themselves well from certain infections, said speakers at a seminar-cum-press briefing on Tuesday.
The programme held to mark the World Disability Day was organised at the Arag Auditorium at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS).
Highlighting the need for creating awareness about the care required in prenatal period, pro vice chancellor Dr Umar Farooq said that while efforts by organisations to help support mentally and
physically challenged individuals must be appreciated, one needed to address the causes of disability that in his opinion was preventable in many cases.
In this regard, he referred to the connection between environmental toxins and fetal development and said a number of chemicals, such as lead, arsenic, chromium and mercury, had been identified that posed serious threat to human life.
“The west has done a lot of research on this subject but we need to have indigenous research so that local factors which could affect health and cause disability could be identified,” he said while pointing out that consumption of contaminated subsoil water was a serious issue in the country.
Prof Qadhi Auranzeb Al Hafi, a visiting research scholar from Lahore, said that about 14.7pc of world’s total population lived with some form of disability that could be caused by some preventable factors, such as teratogens.
Explaining the term, he said that teratogens were substances or environmental agents that caused the development of abnormal cell masses during fetal growth, resulting in physical defects in the fetus. A research in this regard had been launched for the first time in the country, he said.
Citing some data, he said that Qasur district in Punjab stood first in the list of countries with high subsoil water contamination.
Earlier, speakers told the audience about the rehab facilities available for disabled patients at the university.
Director of the Institute of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, DUHS, Dr Nabeela Soomro said it was the first institute of its kind in Pakistan that provided comprehensive multi-disciplinary rehabilitation services that included programmes for polio, cardiac, neurological, musculoskeletal, paediatric rehab and therapies for speech and language.
“The institute receives 700 to 800 cases annually. About 4,000 people have been provided with artificial limbs since 2007,” she said.
“Physically and mentally challenged people are also able to do different tasks but in a different way. Society needs to support them so that they could become its constructive part,” she said.
Professional Development Centre Director Dr Saleem Ilyas and official in charge of the Centre for Child Development Dr Yousuf Yahya also spoke.
Special children from different organisations presented tableaus and songs at the end.