PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday ordered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary to ramp up preventive efforts and increase coordination between government departments to combat any dengue fever outbreak next year in the province.

The bench of Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Nasir Mahfooz directed Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz to submit a detailed report within a month about the steps taken by him for thwarting dengue epidemic in future.

The court ordered that the commissioners and deputy commissioners of all divisions and districts should play a proactive role in prevention of the disease and the chief secretary should personally supervise all the activities.

The bench fixed December 18 for next hearing of two writ petitions filed by advocates Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel and Shah Faisal Ilyas, requesting the court to direct the respondents including provincial government, secretary health, secretary local government and Peshawar deputy commissioner to take immediate steps for eradication of the dengue virus in Peshawar.

Commissioners and deputy commissioners ordered to play proactive role in prevention of the disease

Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz, the acting advocate general, Atif Ali Khan, the additional advocate general, Syed Sikander Shah, Health Secretary Yahya Akhundzada, Public Health Services Secretary Behramand Khan, Director General Health Services Dr Mohammad Arhsid, the chief executive of Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar, Syed Zafar Ali Shah and other officials appeared before the bench.

The bench apprehended that certain reports suggested that next year there would be dengue fever outbreak with more severity. The bench observed that the government had to take steps to avoid that situation.

The chief secretary stated that in the light of earlier directives issued by the high court, the government had already started taking different measures to check any dengue outbreak next year.

He said that a committee comprising different departmental secretaries had been constituted. He informed the bench that for first time 16 epidemiologists had been appointed in the province for the purpose and they would submit their reports to the government from time-to-time.

The chief secretary said that keeping in view the apprehensions of next year dengue outbreak, the government had been utilising all the available resources and apart from health departments other departments had also been taken on board.

Justice Qaiser Rashid pointed out that that year localities on the outskirts of Peshawar, Swat and Swabi were mostly affected because of dengue, therefore, those areas should be focused more.

The chief secretary said that they had constituted special teams, which apart from carrying out fumigation and sprays in the affected areas, would also conduct visits so as to end dengue larvae.

Justice Qaiser Rashid observed that as dengue mosquito bred in clean standing water, therefore, the WSSP should also be included in the campaign.

The bench directed the chief secretary to start awareness campaign in which KP Health Care Commission and universities should be included. Moreover, the court ordered to keep a check on laboratories conducting dengue tests so that those should not charge exorbitant rates from patients.

The bench observed that as the threat of dengue was continuous, therefore, drastic efforts were required especially in areas where cases had risen.

The petitioners stated that more than 7,000 cases of dengue fever were recorded by the government in the current year and there were also reports about an outbreak of the disease next year with more severity. They claimed that the steps taken by government were not enough to fully contain the disease.

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

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019