PESHAWAR: The health department is facing the uphill task of eliminating mosquitoes for prevention of dengue fever as the number of districts with presence of larva has increased from five to seven during the last one week.

This was revealed in a meeting held here on Thursday with Chief Secretary Dr Shahzad Khan Bangash in the chair regarding dengue situation in the province.

The chief secretary on the occasion directed all administrative secretaries, deputy commissioners and district health officers, who attended the meeting via zoom, to expedite coordinated efforts and focus on elimination of breeding sites of mosquitoes.

According to a report of Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response System, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recorded 363 new dengue cases on Thursday up from 242, mostly from high-risk districts including Mardan, Peshawar, Nowshera, Malakand, Khyber, Haripur, Kohat and Nowshera where the larva index was more than five.

Health dept faces uphill task of eliminating mosquitoes

A week ago, the presence of larva was a major issue in five districts but now two more districts -- Malakand and Kohat -- are also recording more hotspots for high larva index.

The province has recorded 5,869 confirmed dengue cases so far including 1,858 in Mardan, 1,351 in Peshawar, 666 in Khyber, 480 in Nowshera, 363 in Haripur, 314 in Dir Lower, 163 in Charsadda, 133 in Kohat and 108 in Swabi.

The chief secretary took exception to a report of Integrated Vector Control Programme, which said that so far 759 patients were admitted to hospitals. The current number of hospitalisation due to dengue is 104 and six patients have passed away so far.

Nowshera has the highest larva index of 9.02, followed by Haripur with 7.2, Peshawar with 5.7, Mardan with 5.6 and Kohat with 5.1. The report said that diagnostic kits, larvicides insecticides and other publicity materials for scaling up awareness level regarding preventive measures at the community level were sent to the districts to eliminate the breeding sites of mosquitoes.

According to officials, the meeting was informed that production of mosquitoes would continue as there were pools of stagnant water, especially in the flood-stricken districts.

They said that it required integrated efforts by all 19 line departments under the respective deputy commissioners to do away with the breeding sites of mosquitoes in and outside houses. They added that provincial teams were visiting the hotspots in high-risk districts in view of upswing in dengue incidence and the imminent rise in cases due to the hot climatic conditions.

The meeting was also informed about the challenges posed by the rainwater in the aftermath of recent floods, causing creation of more breeding sites of dengue mosquitoes and poor intra-sectorial coordination and involvement at districts level.

Interrupted electricity supply and shortage of drinking water also came under discussion in the meeting, which was told that adequate attention was not paid to anti-dengue efforts due to involvement of health workers in the activities against Covid-19 and polio.

It was recommended on the occasion that support of donor agencies was required for provision of anti-dengue articles in addition to enhancement of coordination among line departments at the provincial and district level. The meeting was informed that interrupted supply of electricity and drinking water could play vital role in dealing with the upward trend in dengue cases.

To cope with shortage of staff, it was demanded that services of people for work on daily basis should be hired to strengthen the campaign against the mosquito-borne ailment besides procurement of anti-dengue items on emergency basis, according to officials.

Dr Shahzad Khan Bangash issued strict orders that district level meeting should be held on daily basis and action should be initiated against those officials, who showed laxity in dengue-related activities.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2022

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