PESHAWAR: Dengue fever continued to surge due to the pathetic response at the community level to do away with standing water pools and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa detected 392 new cases on Tuesday, the highest number in a single day so far.

Health experts say that nowadays the temperature ranged between 20 to 25 degree Celsius, which was most favourable for production of mosquitoes, the carrier and transmitter of the virus.

“Carrying out larvicidal and insecticidal spray in and outside homes deal with 10 per cent of the problem while 90 pc efforts are needed to be launched at the community level to end stagnant water pools and ensure that the people don’t store water in uncovered pots unnecessarily,” they said.

The public health specialists said that the elected representatives should scale up awareness at the community level and prevail upon their voters to avoid water storage and fill up ditches where water accumulated and provided breeding spaces to mosquitoes.

Experts call for efforts at community level to put brakes on the fever

The health department, which is often blamed for outbreaks of epidemics, looks towards line departments to make coordinated efforts and ensure that larva is destroyed to stop creation of mosquitoes. As a result, dengue cases continue to increase in the province.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reported 7,350 dengue cases in September so far. The number is higher than all the cases recorded in the province from March to August. The infection level will continue to rise till end-October. Downtrend will start only when the temperature falls below 20 Celsius,” they said.

Physicians said that the only way to deal with the vector-borne illness was to involve all 19 line departments to destroy larva, eliminate water pools and stop production of mosquitoes.

The health department is not able to ensure full-scale surveillance unlike Punjab, which has hired 100,000 dedicated staff for dengue due to which it is important to start action at the community level.

Experts said that the department was responsing at the places from where outbreaks were reported but the medical teaching intuitions were not reporting the positive patients due to which the level of response was not up to the mark.

“The medical teaching institutions (MTIs) have been reporting only admitted patients to the department but not those, who test positive in OPDs and emergency wards. The department needs line-list of all patients so that timely response can be initiated,” they said.

So far only seven deaths have occurred due to dengue because 90 per cent of the infected persons are asymptomatic and only 10 per cent visit hospitals while only one per cent of them are admitted.

Three days ago, Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra issued strict directives to the MTIs to report all positive cases to the department, officials said. They said that the lackluster response from the elected representatives was the main hindrance to elimination of larva.

They said that majority of the MNAs, MPAs, mayors and councillors were in the habit of organising awareness drives in their hujra which were not required as the only effective step was to engage community in campaigns against dengue.

Officials said that sprinkling insecticides was not ideal because it contained poisonous agents, which also caused harms to people.

“The best option is to convince the people not to store water in uncovered utensils and discard water after three days besides getting rid of standing water,” they added.

According to a report of health authorities, 948 dengue patients were hospitalised including 42 of them admitted during the last 24 hours.

Currently, 97 patients are in the hospitals while the number of active cases in the province is 1,478.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022

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