PESHAWAR: The health department is facing the daunting challenge to cope with outbreak of dengue fever as the mosquito-borne disease has killed four people besides sending more than 400 to hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa so far.

As per Dengue Action Plan, the district administrations are required to hold daily meeting of the line departments and take prompt action but such meetings are not taking place regularly despite repeated directives by Chief Secretary Dr Shahzad Khan Bangash, according to sources.

A report of health department said that so far, three persons in Khyber and one in Mardan died of dengue fever and 416 were hospitalised in different health facilities of the province. During the last 24 hours, 10 more patients were hospitalised, making the total number of currently admitted patients 44, it said.

The report said that a total of 3,048 patients tested positive for dengue so far throughout the province, including 240 recorded on Monday. It said that the cases would continue to rise due to the recent floods that resulted in stagnant water pools in the affected areas. It added that 2,675 patients recovered from the ailment and were sent home from hospitals. The number of active cases is 326 in the province.

Four have died and 400 hospitalised in KP due to the disease so far

The disease is widespread in the province. Mardan has recorded 1,231 cases, Khyber 615, Nowshera 299, Haripur 231, Peshawar 126, Dir Lower 117, Charsadda 99, Dera Ismail Khan 68, Kohat 44 and Swabi has registered 41 cases.

Officials said that currently 28 persons, including 10 females and three children, were admitted to Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) where a 31-bed isolation ward was established for dengue patients.

LRH spokesman Mohammad Asim said that the number of beds was being increased due to influx of patients as the dengue season would continue for next three months or even more.

Khyber Teaching Hospital, which is home to 10 dengue patients, has decided in a meeting to provide complete facilities to patients, according to a press release.

The meeting was attended by KTH medical director Dr Mohammad Siraj, Peshawar additional deputy commissioner Mohammad Imran Khan, chairman medicine department Dr Awais Naeem and others.

The press release said that free drugs and diagnostic services would be provided to patients. The hospital has so far tested 365 suspected patients and 77 of them emerged positive.

Physicians in hospital said that administration in all districts should hold daily meetings as per the Dengue Action Plan and ensure implementation of all the decisions to deal with the situation posed by the recent floods.

They said that about 90 per cent of the cases were asymptomatic. Of the positive cases, only two per cent required hospitalisations with less than one per cent in ICU and high dependency units. Mortality rate is less but there is a need for multi-sectoral approach to eliminate stagnant water pools as these are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The experts said that people shouldn’t store water unnecessarily and cover the pots properly in addition to use of bed nets to avoid mosquito bites.

They said that the chief secretary recently issued strict directives about holding coordination meetings at the district level regularly. The representatives of all line departments should attend the meetings. The officials representing their departments in the meetings shouldn’t be below the rank of deputy directors empowered to implement the decisions, they said.

Otherwise, the situation could go the 2017’s way when hospitals were overcrowded with patients, they said. “It is scientifically proven from several research studies that dengue rises after flood, therefore, preventive measures are of utmost importance,” they added.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2022

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