PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department is struggling to execute its plan to address endemic dengue fever in Khyber tribal district over a lack of clarity over the Fata health directorate’s merger with it.

Currently, the district’s jurisdiction falls under the Fata health directorate.

Sources told Dawn that the KP chief secretary had asked the Fata health directorate to report to his office instead of the additional chief secretary of the Fata Secretariat after the merger so that preventive and curative measures were taken against dengue but there was a confusion about how the province would intervene in the matter when a separate directorate of Fata health was still functional.

Six union councils around Jamrud tehsil of Khyber district has reported dengue cases prompting the provincial chief secretary to ask the director-general (health services), Fata, to visit the affected areas and ensure concrete measures for prevention of the mosquito-borne disease.

Officials insist there’s lack of clarity over Fata health directorate’s merger with dept

However, sources said, the orders have puzzled the DG due to confusion over the tribal district’s jurisdiction.

On July 2, the provincial health secretary convened a meeting to discuss the Fata health directorate-health department merger plan in the wake of the government’s decision to merge Fata with KP but the relevant officials from Fata didn’t show up.

Another meeting was called afterwards but that didn’t bear fruit, sources said.

Sources told Dawn that the KP-Fata merger was likely to take shape soon but the reluctance on part of the erstwhile Fata’s officials had been hampering the plan to address diseases in tribal districts.

In a meeting held two days ago, the health department had decided to send teams to Khyber district to evaluate dengue crisis and carry out activities on the pattern of those done in Peshawar when it was hit by dengue outbreak last year.

The sources said the health department wanted the ‘complete’ merger of seven tribal districts with the province to begin activities and deploy staff to prevent dengue from snowballing into a major public health issue there.

They said the department had planned to send trained lady health workers, introduce a system of monitoring and devise technical strategies to protect people of tribal districts from diseases.

The sources said the plan included door-to-door visits in the high risk UCs to inform the people to eliminate standing water in their neighborhoods, prevent water accumulation in old tyres and cover water pots to deny breeding space to dengue-causing mosquitoes.

They said Khyber district needed logistic and technical support to do away with danger posed by dengue fever but the health department wanted full administrative powers to work independently for the purpose.

A letter written to the health authorities of former Fata region in June said the Constitutional Amendment of May 2018 had made tribal agencies the administrative districts, which needed to be merged with the province’s health system, but the directives hadn’t been materialised yet.

Officials have also expressed concerns about lack of preparedness on part of the erstwhile Fata’s officials to carry out anti-measles campaign slated to begin on Oct 15 across the country.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018

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