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RAWALPINDI: As the monsoon season is ending, there are chances of an increasing number of dengue patients reaching government hospitals from different parts of the garrison city.

A doctor at the Holy Family Hospital (HFH) said 10 suspected dengue patients were admitted to the hospital whose samples had been sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Though the district administration had claimed that the dengue virus would not spread like the previous years due to efforts made since January, health experts believed that there were still loopholes in the campaign which resulted in the increase of the patients.

10 suspected dengue patients admitted to Holy Family Hospital and their samples have been sent to National Institute of Health, doctor says

During the last a few years, the numbers of dengue patients have increased in the city. In 2011, the total number of reported cases in Rawalpindi was 668. In 2012, not a single case was reported while in 2013 the number reached 894. In 2014, as many as 1,212 patients were reported while the number increased to 3,303 in 2015. In 2016, as many as 1,106 patients arrived in the three government hospitals while in 2017 the hospitals treated 200 patients.

However, since Jan 1 to Sept 8 this year, 43 dengue patients have reported in the city and cantonment areas.

A senior official of the district administration told Dawn that fumigation in the low-lying areas, especially along Leh Nullah, should be started as water had accumulated near its banks and become a breeding ground for the dengue mosquitoes.

“During the previous government, the health authority and hospitals had to send reports about the dengue patients on a daily basis but after the formation of the new government in Punjab, the government has not sought any report about the anti-dengue campaign and patients from the authorities concerned.”

He said there were two main problems in the city and cantonment areas regarding dengue virus. “The city is adjacent to Islamabad where no campaign has been launched during the last a few months even though the federal capital has vast green areas. Most of the dengue patients arriving in the city hospitals come from areas located on the border between Rawalpindi and Islamabad,” he said.

The second reason for the dengue cases is the continuous wet weather and water accumulated in under-construction buildings in the twin cities, he added.

District Health Authority Chief Executive Officer Dr Khalid Mehmood told Dawn that two weeks ago 10 dengue patients had arrived in the city from Daultala area of Gujar Khan after which the health authority conducted a campaign. Since then, he claimed, no new case had been reported from any area.

He said 23 patients were affected by the dengue virus in Rawalpindi but “we started the campaign about one month ago and since then the number of patients has not increased as compared to the last few years.”

He said efforts to eradicate the dengue menace in Rawalpindi were underway.

However, he said, mostly people stored water in tanks and drums for daily use and the dengue larvae were found around such storage areas. He believed that proper preventive measures were not being taken to avoid the spread of mosquito-bitten virus. There is also a need to educate the citizens about the preventive measures and about cooperating with teams who visit their houses. Mostly people misbehave with the teams.

He said the health department teams did not conduct fumigation early because experts believed that the dengue mosquito developed resistance if the spray is carried out frequently.

He said the health department conducted chemical sprays in areas from where the dengue patients were reported. Besides, the dengue mosquitoes were eliminated by removing its breeding sites.

But another senior official of the health department said this year the anti-dengue drive had started late.

“The rains started before the monsoon season and after the changed weather pattern the health department in coordination with the environment department should have launched an anti-dengue surveillance campaign. But during the election campaign such activities could not be carried out.”

He said most of the workers remained busy in the anti-polio drive and could not spare time for the anti-dengue campaign during the last two months.

He said the government should also prepare a proper plan for anti-dengue drive and educate the citizens on healthcare.

Three hospitals have allocated separate wards for the dengue patients. “We have allocated 78 beds for the dengue patients in each hospital. We received 33 patients so far but there are arrangements to accommodate 100 people in two separate wards,” said Dr Haroon Hashmi, the incharge of the dengue wards at the HFH.

The Rawalpindi Cantonment Board has also made arrangements to deal with dengue patients in the Cantonment General Hospital (CGH) where 17 beds have been reserved for the dengue patients. However, the hospital has not provided treatment to any patient as most of the patients go to the HFH which has better facilities.

RCB spokesman Qaisar Mehmood said they had formed special teams for fumigation which would start operation soon. He said training of the teams had been completed and a door-to-door checking of dengue larvae had been completed in 10 wards.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2018