ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has devised an action plan to control dengue in the capital, under which six teams of sanitation inspectors and malaria supervisors have been formed and 136 teams of lady health workers (LHW) have been activated to raise awareness of how to prevent dengue.

Preventive measures include identifying and destroying mosquito breeding sites, covering open drinking water containers, removing tyres, plastic bags, plastic bottles and other waste from roofs and draining water from room coolers and refrigerator trays.

A meeting was held on Tuesday, chaired by NHS Secretary Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik, to review the steps being taken to minimise the appearance and spread of dengue fever.

It was attended by the Rawalpindi deputy commissioner and additional deputy commissioner, the Islamabad additional deputy commissioner, a high level team of experts from the office of the director general health in Lahore, executive directors and their representatives from all Islamabad hospitals and dengue control focal persons from Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Sanitation inspectors, lady health workers activated in teams for dengue prevention

The meeting was informed that the Dengue Control Cell has been activated and is managed by the additional district health officer.

Outdoor and indoor surveillance teams were deputed immediately to begin fogging areas and raise awareness through door-to-door visits by LHWs. Reports of dengue cases are being shared by all major hospitals in the capital, and daily meetings of the additional district health officer with field staff are being held.

Situation at Pims

The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has established 10-bed isolation wards for dengue patients in Surgical Ward IV and Medical Ward I.

A total of 55 suspected dengue patients have been brought to Pims this month, of which 25 tested positive, Pims media coordinator Dr Waseem Khawaja said.

“However, not a single casualty was reported in the hospital. The patients who tested positive for dengue belonged to different areas of Islamabad and Rawalpindi,” he added.

He said the isolation wards were set up on directives from Pims Executive Director Dr Ansar Maxood. Fumigation arrangements have also been made to ensure the virus does not spread within the hospital, he added.

Dengue is spread by mosquito bites and causes a platelet deficiency in patients, who then require platelet transfusions as their blood does not have the normal clotting ability.

If timely treatment is not provided, the disease may turn into life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever and that can lead to bleeding, low platelet levels and blood plasma leakage or to dengue shock syndrome – when blood pressure is dangerously low.

Pakistan has experienced may dengue outbreaks since its first in 1994. Two major outbreaks were reported in the last two decades – in 2005, 6,000 cases with 52 deaths were reported from Karachi, and more than 21,000 cases with 350 deaths were reported from Lahore in 2011. More than 48,000 laboratory confirmed cases of dengue were reported across the country between 2011 and 2014.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2019