PESHAWAR: Lack of dedicated staff has been hampering the campaign against dengue fever as the province has recorded 373 new cases, bringing the tally of patients afflicted with the mosquito-borne aliment to 7,728 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to health experts.

They said that upswing in dengue cases was likely to continue as there was no full-scale campaign to do away with the causative agents including prevalence of larva and subsequent production of mosquitoes.

They said that the province had been recording more than 350 cases daily for the past one week. Most of the cases are being recorded in Mardan, Peshawar, Khyber, Kohat, Malakand, Haripur, Mansehra, Nowshera, Charsadda and Swabi where health department is faced with the daunting task of deploying staff to cope with the situation.

The health department has been requesting for dedicated staff to prevent the ongoing outbreak of the vector-borne disease, especially in high-risk districts where standing flood water has resulted in more production of mosquitoes.

Total number of patients reaches 7,728 as KP records 373 new cases

Physicians at the hospitals in Peshawar said that they received more dengue patients. They said that other people in the localities of the patients should be tested for the virus.

However, the health department continues to accord full attention to Covid-19 and polio despite the fact that there is no outbreak of both the ailments. On Friday, only 14 cases of coronavirus were reported in the province while 1,802 tests of suspected patients were conducted, showing continuous downtrend of the virus.

During the last one week, the number of coronavirus infections was about 10 per day in the province. Only three deaths had been recorded due to the virus.

“Likewise, there has been a campaign against poliovirus for the past more than two decades while cases are emerging from certain districts. This year, a total of 18 polio cases have been recorded in Pakistan, all from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” said the physicians.

The polio cases include 16 from North Waziristan and two from Lakki Marwat but campaigns are taking place everywhere.

They said that the government should hire dedicated staff for campaign against dengue fever and involve the polio and Covid-19 staff in surveillance of the vector-borne disease that was showing upward trend due to the favourable environment for production of mosquitoes that increased bites and led to rise in cases.

On October 3, the health department will launch a vaccination campaign to inoculate people from nine months to 15 years of age against typhoid fever throughout the province. The department needs to launch full-fledged drive against dengue fever by diverting its staff from polio and Covid-19 because it is becoming a major public health issue.

By end of the current month, the number of dengue cases is most likely to surpass the total number of cases reported in 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018. A 2017 like situation is feared when the province recorded more than 25,000 dengue cases and 70 mortalities and the hospitals were overcrowded with patients.

“In this case, the health department will not be able to cope with the situation like 2017 when there was no bed available and patients were either sent home or treated in corridors,” said physicians.

The health department has only 10 per cent responsibility of diagnosing and treating the patients while 90 per cent of work is to be done by other departments to eliminate larva, scale up community awareness regarding prevention of birth of mosquitoes and ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity and water so that people can escape bites and avoid storage of water to deny reproduction of mosquitoes.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2022

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