PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday summoned the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary to appear before it for an update on steps taken by the government for the prevention of dengue outbreak next year.

Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar observed that the reports about dengue incidence were not encouraging as more and more cases were reported daily.

The bench observed that besides the health department, others should also expedite efforts for the disease elimination in the province.

The bench fixed Nov 14 for next hearing into two petitions filed by lawyers Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel and Shah Faisal Ilyas seeking orders for the respondents, including provincial government, health and local government secretaries, and Peshawar deputy commissioner to take immediate steps for dengue elimination in Peshawar.

They requested the court to order the government to take both preventive and curative measures for curtailing dengue fever.

Director general (health services) Arshad Ahmad informed the court that 6,803 dengue cases had so far been reported in the province but the disease claimed no life.

Justice Qaiser Rasheed recalled that during a previous hearing, the DG had claimed that dengue would disappear by the end of Oct but it continued to be there.

The DG claimed that the dengue incidence in the province had reduced by 50 per cent and hopefully, new cases would stop surfacing in near future due to drop in temperatures.

The bench asked what anti-dengue steps the government had taken for next year as the court was earlier informed that the disease would be more severe next year.

The bench asked the DG whether other departments were also involved in the steps taken for checking the disease.

It observed that although performance of health department was better, it should also coordinate with other bodies and the issue may also be discussed in the cabinet’s meeting.

Additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Hayat Shah said those other departments had also been taking several precautionary measures including fumigation in affected areas.

A representative of district administration said inspection of around 200,000 houses in provincial capital had been launched to destroy larvae of dengue mosquito.

Justice Qaiser Rasheed observed that ministers should spare time for the anti-dengue efforts and all departments should take the elimination of the fever as a challenge.

The bench observed that the health department should computerise the record of dengue patients to know how many of them had been recovered.

The DG said 6,721 patients had so far been discharged from different hospitals after recovery. He said all health facilities functioning under his supervision had been conducting free dengue test.

The bench observed that as the chief secretary supervised all departments, he should appear on next date and inform the court about the government plan of checking the disease next year.

The petitions were filed in 2017 when most parts of Peshawar were affected with dengue fever and people in large number were admitted to different hospitals.

The court resumed hearing few weeks ago into the cases when the disease surfaced in different parts of the province, including Peshawar.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2019