PESHAWAR: Dengue cases are declining with the advent of winter season amid calls from experts to start immediate work with focus on water to reduce production of mosquitoes, the only transmitter of the vector-borne disease in the province.

The focus of long term intervention should be water, the first source of mosquito production, according to entomologists.

“We don’t have local dengue virus but imported it from other cities. It was communicated to people through bites of infected mosquitoes. There is not much credit to the government departments for declining cases of dengue because mosquitoes don’t survive in temperature below 15 Celsius,” they told this scribe.

The experts said that from November 12 to 17, the province reported over 100 dengue cases per day after which the incidence started decreasing owing to onset of cold weather.

Experts call for long-term strategy to control mosquito production

On Wednesday, 54 new dengue infections were recorded taking the province-wide toll of the cases to 10,223, a report of health department said.

So far, 10 persons including two each from Peshawar, Khyber and North Waziristan and one each from Swabi, Malakand, Haripur and Bannu have died of dengue in the province.

The province has 189 active patients. Of the total infected persons, 10,024 patients including 60 recorded during the last 24 hours have recovered from the ailment. A total of 46 patients have been admitted to hospitals in the province.

Since March, health department has tested 65,306 suspected persons. Peshawar has reported 5,391 dengue cases, the highest number of infections recorded by any district in the province.

The health experts said that dengue fever started infecting people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after 2010 flash floods, which increased production of mosquitoes. Since then, the mosquitoes-born disease occurs every year. It killed 70 people in 2017 and 10 this year so far.

They said that health department had a role only in diagnostics and treatment of patients but other measures, such as provision of water and electricity and keeping the environment clean and free of stagnant water pools were the responsibilities of other departments.

So far, efforts by government to ensure close coordination among the line departments to reduce population of mosquitoes and resolve the problems of water and electricity of the people in the hard-it 20 dengue hotspots have failed to show the desired results. These areas are reporting 80 per cent cases in Peshawar, which is responsible for over 50 per cent incidence in the province.

“Lack of cooperation by people in the endemic areas is another problem as they don’t allow workers to carry out spray and check presence of larvae in water pots in their houses.

“As a result, every year, we are waiting for hot season to go and get rid of dengue,” said the experts.

Doctors in the hospitals want other department to work in unison and eliminate cause of mosquitoes-breeding to reduce the incidence.

“We have improved our management skills regarding dengue due to which the mortality from the disease this year was below 0.5 per cent,” they said.

There are five high-risk districts for dengue in the province including Peshawar, Haripur, Mansehra, Swabi and Mardan.

“Dengue is totally preventable, but cases are coming from every district in ones and twos,” said health officials. They said that they took steps for vector control in the province.

“A joint programme will be started soon in collaboration with water, sanitation and municipalities to ensure that dengue does not infect more people in future,” they said.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2021

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