ISLAMABAD: Overworked employees at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences’ (Pims) dengue centre went on strike on Saturday, refusing to work to protest the shortage of staff.

They claimed that the management did not fulfill its promise to provide additional staff, and it was not possible for them to continue working without more support.

Pims Executive Director Dr Ansar Maxood admitted that the dengue centre staff were overburdened and claimed that additional staff would be deputed tomorrow (Monday).

The employees on Saturday walked out of the dengue centre for about two hours, saying it was not possible for them to continue working.

A staff member who asked not to be named said they had been working with fewer employees for the last month, but the management had not bothered to provide them with additional staff.

“We get thousands of patients every day and almost every day we hear the same response from the management, that additional staff will be deputed soon. We received 1,900 suspected dengue patients in the last 24 hours. It is impossible to continue working without any breaks and deal with such a huge number of patients.

There are a total of 12 to 15 doctors, 20 or so nurses and 12 data entry staffers working at the dengue centre in three shifts of eight hours each; four to five doctors, seven nurses and four data entry staffers are deputed per shift, Pims Deputy Executive Director Dr Zulfiqar Ghori said. There are another 12 data entry staffers also working at the centre.

Dr Maxood also admitted there is a shortage of staff in the centre, but said the issue would be addressed soon.

“We have declared the new emergency department the dengue centre and a huge number of patients visit it daily. On the other hand, the hospital has been facing a severe shortage of staff. Despite that, we will arrange some staff members and they will be deputed at the dengue centre from Monday,” he said.

He said around 200 employees from grade one to 15 will be appointed soon.

“We are appointing more than 130 employees from grade six to 15 through a testing agency. After that, there will be a bit of improvement in terms of the workload,” he said.

Three month plan developed for dengue

The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has developed a three-month joint emergency plan of action for dengue control in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The plan was developed in collaboration with Pakistan Red Crescent Society and has been allocated Rs19.6 million by the International Federation of the Red Cross in Geneva.

The plan is being executed in the most victimised areas, with very high burden of disease, and aims to benefit a target population of 210,270 in the twin cities.

Under the plan, a series of activities such as dengue larval source management campaigns in households, educational institutions and hospitals will be held. Mosquito repellent and nets will also be distributed in hospitals and at the community level.

The government will launch mobile health teams using ambulances with the deployment of technical staff in hot spots in order to provide diagnostic and case management services at the community level.

The government will also train 70 community-based volunteers for capacity building and community level interventions, who may then be actively involved in health education and public behavioural change activities.

The plan’s execution areas in Rawalpindi include Dhoke Munshi, Rehmatabad, Kotha Kallan, Morgah, Dhama Syedan, Gangal, Dhamial, Allama Iqbal Colony, Ahmedabad/Azizabad, Kamalabad, Tench Bhatta, Westridge, Chammanzar, Raheemabad, Dhoke Farman Ali, Dhoke Chiraghdin and Dhoke Hassu.

Potentially vulnerable areas in the capital that will receive similar treatment are G-6, G-7, G-8, G-9, F-6, F-7, I-9, I-10, I-8/1 and Rawal Town.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019