PESHAWAR: Dengue haemorrhagic fever is spreading rapidly as 1,200 cases have been confirmed during the past 25 days from the rural areas in Peshawar district mainly owing to lack of coordinated efforts by line departments to ensure cleanliness, supply of water, electricity, fumigation and create public awareness regarding preventive measures.
The health department issued an advisory in March this year seeking coordination among the line departments but it went unheeded and now an outbreak of the disease is ongoing.
More than 100 health facilities in the district have been receiving over 100 suspected patients daily with complaints of vomiting, fever and abdominal pain. About 50 of them are tested positive and about 4,000 have screened so far, according to official document. City’s teaching hospitals have so far treated 188 patients where 25 have been admitted in isolation wards. The affected people aged from two to 65 years.
DG health claims situation satisfactory, hopes dengue season will be over within few days
The record shows that most patients belong to Sarband, Achini, Sheikhan, Sheikh Mohammadi and Palosi areas where thousands of people had been infected in 2017 outbreak of dengue.
Sources blame lack of coordination among Pesco, Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP) and tehsil municipal administration to stem the tide of the virus.
They said that unscheduled power outages forced people to store water and provide breeding spaces to larvae. They said that scheduled power loadshedding could help the people in getting water supply without any need of storage.
The health workers are short of funds to buy fuel and hire extra staff for carrying out intra-residential spray, which is the main reason of rise in the infection.
Director-General Health Services Dr Arshad Ahmed Khan told Dawn that Peshawar with a population of four million recorded less than 500 cases so far.
“The situation is quite satisfactory and the dengue season is going to be over in a few days. We are providing enough resources to cope with the situation throughout the province,” he added.
He conceded that inter-sectors collaboration was needed the most. He said that sanitation and hygiene habits of the society were going down rapidly. He added that people should be encouraged to maintain cleanliness as health department could not eradicate dengue alone.
Dr Arshad said that funds were put at the disposal of district health officer to take the desired measures. “Other sectors are throwing their burdens on health department,” he added.
The health professional associated with the anti-dengue efforts claim that despite lack of resources, they have been campaigning to scale up public awareness by giving health education in endemic areas. However, they require special funds.
To prevent the epidemic from snowballing into major health issue like 2017 when thousands were admitted and hospitals ran out of beds besides about 70 deaths, physicians say that rural health facilities in high-risk areas should be well-equipped to work round-the-clock and other necessary steps in unison with other departments should be ensured to deny breeding grounds to mosquitoes and inform the people that stagnant water pools in the neighbourhoods can cause the ailment.
They say that historically, Peshawar district has been the main stay of dengue virus where people should be prepared to mosquito nets and the staff indulged in the prevention and treatment activities should be provided with transportation, fuel, honoraria and dengue risk allowance besides taking safety measures for them.
Our Correspondent from Shangla adds: Seven dengue cases were reported in tehsil Bisham of Shangla district on Sunday.
According to Kamal Zada, a spokesperson for the health department, seven cases of dengue fever were reported from Maira union council of Bisham tehsil during the last two days. He said that four of the patients were admitted to the dengue isolation ward established in the tehsil headquarters hospital Bisham.
He said that the cases might increase with the passing of time. He said that health department was striving to control the situation in the area.
Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2019