The Met Department recently warned of a spike in dengue fever cases in the country, saying post-monsoon weather conditions are conducive to the spread of the vector-borne disease. He mentioned eight major cities – Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi – as likely hot spots that will be particularly vulnerable to the Aedes aegypti attack from October 10 to November 20. The hospital resources of several cities are already in place. stretched as doctors treat Covid cases. With dengue fever expected to hit full force in the coming days, the necessary preventive measures must be taken by health and municipal authorities to minimize the spread of the viral disease. The number of cases is already increasing in several regions of the country. For example, in Rawalpindi, more than 500 patients were treated in public hospitals alone in just two weeks. Many of them have been admitted.
Health authorities and the public can take various steps to reduce transmission. The most important of these is the prevention of mosquito breeding. This would involve immediate draining of standing water and regular fumigation. It is also advisable to use insect repellents, wear long-sleeved clothing, and sleep under mosquito nets to guard against mosquito bites. These recommendations should form the basis of a sustained public awareness campaign. But the public will only follow the government. Can the latter deliver? There is certainly a local precedent that has been acclaimed internationally. Lahore was in the throes of a dengue epidemic in 2011. The provincial administration of the then Chief Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, decided to eliminate the breeding foci by implementing the councils of countries like Sri Lanka which is engaged in an ongoing battle against dengue. Departments worked overtime and innovative solutions were introduced. The result was that the number of cases rose from 21,000 in 2011 to 258 in 2012, according to a World Bank document. This shows that the dangers can be minimized if the health authorities take the problem seriously.
Posted in Dawn, le 5 October 2021