Sindh govt reduces charges for dengue, malaria tests amid rise in cases

Published September 15, 2022
<p>This image shows fumigation spray being carried out in UC 7 of North Nazimabad. — Photo courtesy: Murtaza Wahab Twitter</p>

This image shows fumigation spray being carried out in UC 7 of North Nazimabad. — Photo courtesy: Murtaza Wahab Twitter

KARACHI: Seventy-eight per cent of the total dengue fever cases recorded in Karachi in the month of September were registered at healthcare facilities located in district East, Central and South, according to the health department data released on Wednesday.

The figures showed that a total of 1,428 dengue fever cases — 201 reported on Sept 13 — were recorded in the city this month so far, of which 498 cases were treated at healthcare facilities located in district East, 345 in Central and 272 in South.

The rest of the cases were reported at healthcare facilities located in Korangi (174), West (37), Malir (53) and Keamari (49).

However, officials believed that the actual number of dengue fever cases might be five times higher than what is being reported by the health department.

Over 200 test positive in one day; Murad orders arrangements in hospitals as done in Covid days

This year, a total of 3,635 cases of dengue fever were reported in Karachi. Of them, 1,397 cases were registered in healthcare facilities located in East followed by Central 857 cases, South 679, Korangi 297, West 106, Malir 161 and Keamari 138.

According to the government data, this year nine people have died of dengue. Six mortalities were reported at hospitals located in East alone, one each in Central, South and Malir.

A total of 396 dengue fever cases were reported in the rest of Sindh this year; the majority of which were recorded in Mirpurkhas division (237) and Hyderabad division (99).

Speaking to Dawn, a health department official explained that most dengue patients had mild illness who either reported at private clinics or outpatient departments of hospitals.

“But, hospitals do not maintain proper records of their OPD patients while family physicians as well as city’s laboratories under the currently adopted protocol are not required to share their data. Hence, the official figures don’t reflect the ground reality as only severe dengue cases require admission,” the official said.

According to the official, the current number of dengue fever cases might be five times higher than what is being reported by the health department. Often, many poor patients don’t even opt for the (costly) tests, he said.

“We can get some reliable indicators on dengue only if the health department binds laboratories to share their data, improve their communication with hospitals and properly maintain and update its record. Often, we hear complaints that the department hasn’t updated its record,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials of the Sindh Health Care Commission held a meeting with the management of city’s major laboratories wherein it was decided that charges of tests related to dengue and malaria would be reduced to half.

“The management of laboratories in view of the national calamity acceded to support the cause and agreed to cut the cost of most common tests i.e. dengue virus antigen detection test (NS1), platelet count test and ICT malaria test approximately 50pc for three months starting from Sept 15 till Dec 15, 2022.”

“The current rates for the tests for dengue NS1 antigen ranging from Rs1,460 to Rs3,000 has been reduced to Rs850. The rates for platelet count test varying from Rs430 to Rs550 has been reduced to Rs250.”

“The malaria test rates have been reduced from Rs800-Rs1,300 to Rs500. A notification has been issued and teams authorised to monitor labs and hospitals for compliance of the notification,” says a press release.

CM directs KMC to carryout fumigation

At a press conference, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to carry out fumigation to control the dengue virus.

Mr Shah said that arrangements were being made in hospitals for dengue patients as was done during Covid-19 pandemic.

City Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab told Dawn that as many as 25 spray vehicles were carrying out the fumigation in seven districts of the city.

He said that the spray was being carried out on average in 30 union councils daily, adding that the city’s municipality had sufficient anti-insect chemical with it. “The fumigation drive will continue till the required results are not achieved,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2022

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