KARACHI: As the city remained in the grip of dengue fever, experts have called upon the provincial government to learn from countries which have effectively used biological methods to control population of mosquitoes and start working on preventive strategies for the next year.

Several international studies have linked climatic changes, resulting in increased temperature and rainfall, with increased dengue incidence and outbreak risks, the experts pointed out and added that there was a need to adopt a scientific approach in this regard.

“Every year dengue fever affects thousands of people in the city and the government takes notice of the problem only after the issue is highlighted in the media. This reactionary approach needs to be changed,” shared Dr Saeed Khan, professor of molecular pathology heading the Sindh Public Health Lab at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS).

The belatedly launched fumigation drives had been of no use and there was a need to learn from other countries which had successfully reduced the population of mosquitoes.

Belated fumigation drives termed useless

“There are different biological methods to handle this problem and we need to see which one suits our environment. Besides, we need to engage the public in environmental improvement through awareness campaigns.”

According to Dr Khan, deforestation, urbanisation and pollution have eliminated many natural predators that help control mosquito pollution.

“For instance, we can hardly see dragonflies these days as highly polluted air and deforestation have destroyed their habitat. These flies are natural predators for mosquitoes and eat them at all stages of life,” he explained.

About the dengue fever cases being reported these days, Dr Khan said that the number was high. “We are daily getting more than 2,000 samples for examination out of which 50 per cent are found to be dengue positive. Even children are contracting the viral infection in large numbers these days. Dengue serotype 2 has been found to be the most common serotype.”

The majority of dengue patients, he said, either had mild symptoms or subclinical disease (people may not know they were even infected).

“But, even then, they are carriers of the virus and can transmit the disease through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The disease turns serious in patients with underlying health problems and those who ignore signs of disease severity and report at hospitals after prolonged delay.”

Most patients, Dr Saeed pointed out, were reporting with fever, vomiting, nausea, body aches, joint pains and indigestion.

Separate wards ordered

Meanwhile, the government has directed all private hospitals and diagnostic laboratories to report their cases to its online portal while all medical superintendents of all government-run hospitals in Karachi and Hyderabad have been directed to set up separate wards for the vector-borne illness.

The healthcare facilities which have been issued instructions in this respect are government hospitals located in Ibrahim Hyderi, Lyari, Korangi No5, Liaquatabad, Saudabad (Malir), Nazimabad, New Karachi and Children Hospital, Civil Hospital Karachi, Services Hospital in Karachi/Hyderabad and Liaquat University, Hospital, Hyderabad.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2022

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