KARACHI: As the number of victims of the mosquito-borne chikungunya disease has already climbed to over 4,400 this year, a recent survey shows the incidence of the disease is greater in the city’s five towns.

Officials in the Sindh health ministry said their officials together with a team of the World Health Organisation surveyed the five towns of the city and assessed the dangers posed by the germ.

They said epidemiologists and entomologists in the WHO’s team and from the health ministry visited the five towns and prepared a report.

The teams conducted epidemiological investigations of the chikungunya outbreak at health facilities and neighbourhoods.

The teams visited Orangi, Korangi, Lyari, Bin Qasim and Malir towns falling in five out of six districts of the city which showed greater incidence of chikungunya especially during the current year.

Officials said a strategy had already been devised to rein in the disease, which is not life threatening, but, damages the human body to a great extent and its patients experience unbearable pain.

Officials in the Sindh health ministry reckoned Malir as the most affected district of the city vis-à-vis the brunt of the highly painful disease. People from those areas routinely flock to hospitals with little effort being witnessed on the part of the government to hold back its incidence.

Figures issued by the Prevention and Control Programme for dengue, which also records the incidence of chikungunya for being caused by a similar vector, show the disease has affected more than 250 people in the city in September.

During the current year, officials said, chikungunya has affected around 4,400 people, while the number of total victims by the disease last year was 405.

Karachi remains the city with the most chikungunya cases in the province with more than 3,600 cases; while, the desert district of Tharparkar recorded more than 650 of the remaining cases.

Officials in the health ministry said Malir remained the district with most chikungunya cases; while, among the city’s 18 towns, Gadap constituted the largest part of the figures.

“These figures could be more if all the hospitals and clinics report us about the chikungunya cases from across Sindh,” said a senior official in the ministry.

Lately, the city’s health authorities sent hundreds of blood samples of suspected chikungunya to the National Institute of Health, Islamabad, of which most were confirmed to have afflicted with the disease.

“This forms 83 per cent of the samples we sent to the NIH. We could not send all the suspected cases, thus we have reason to believe that some of those suspected cases were not related to chikungunya,” claimed a senior health official in the city.

Officials said a good number of high-grade fever cases were reported as chikungunya without being confirmed. However, they conceded that the situation was alarming.

Officials said they had proposed the Sindh government to establish a laboratory to detect the disease in the city as there was none in Sindh.

The PMA Karachi expressed its concerns over the spread of chikungunya in Karachi. It said chikungunya was an emerging, epidemic-prone vector-borne disease of considerable significance in the WHO South-East Asia Region.

It demanded from the provincial and city health authorities to take immediate measures for control and eradication of the disease.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2017


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