KARACHI, April 6: Blood tests for dengue haemorrhagic fever will be 100 per cent free this year at the hospitals and labs managed by the city government. The Sindh government will set up eight central blood banks — four in Karachi and four in the interior of Sindh — in collaboration with a German NGO that will facilitate the provision of platelets.

This was stated by EDO Health Dr A.D. Sanjiani and Special Additional Secretary Dr Captain Abdul Majid at an awareness lecture on dengue. The event was organised by Medical and Social Welfare Committee of the Arts Council, Karachi.

Dr Afia Zafar, an Associate Professor at the Microbiology Department of the Aga Khan University and Hospital was the guest speaker.

Dr Sanjiani said that the city government had shared 50 per cent cost of the patients’ dengue test last year, but this year the tests for dengue will be absolutely free. Before June, a blood bank would also be operational for the purpose.

Highlighting the importance of government-citizen partnership in dengue control, Dr Majid said the government alone could not prevent the spread of the disease.

The city government does carry out fumigation, but people should understand that the use of insecticide on a mass scale has its own hazards. With the onset of cold weather, the dengue mosquito, Aedes Agypti, doesn’t die but find refuge in dark and warm places in homes. The eggs of the mosquito species can survive for three years and to ensure maximum prevention, all reservoirs have to be cleaned,” he said.

According to the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation, if a person is infected in his home, 25 houses in the neighbourhood may require in-house spray. Every person having a history of contracting dengue is now more at risk of having a more dangerous form of dengue.

General Secretary of the Pakistan Medical Association Dr Qaiser Sajjad said that the government should set up virology labs at all hospitals.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Afia Zafar said that dengue could be, at best, controlled, but it was quite impossible to eradicate it completely. Since there was no vaccine for dengue, prevention was the best strategy.

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