CDGL workers busy in spraying anti-dengue medicines in Lahore on Tuesday. – Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: With 3,530 confirmed cases of dengue fever causing at least nine deaths across the country so far, the federal and provincial governments agreed on Tuesday to create a contact group in collaboration with the World Health Organisation to contain the spread of the deadly disease.

A consensus-building session on ‘Dengue outbreak: experiences, lessons learnt – coordinating response’ presided over by the Planning Commission’s Deputy Chairman Dr Nadeemul Haque also agreed to adopt guidelines for clinical case management of dengue haemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome prepared by the WHO.

The meeting was informed that as of Monday 3,530 people had contracted dengue fever and nine lives had been lost.

The Planning Commission’s Health Adviser Dr Talib Lashari told Dawn that the WHO had reported 3,270 confirmed cases of dengue fever in Punjab, 195 in Sindh, 35 in Islamabad, 25 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and five in Azad Kashmir.

He said the disease had caused six deaths in Punjab and one each in Islamabad, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. No case has been reported from Balochistan.

Representatives of the federal and provincial governments agreed to ensure community involvement to create awareness by seeking support from the media, neighbourhoods and educational institutions. A workshop for orientation of the media will be organised in Islamabad this week, while provinces will arrange similar sessions.

The meeting decided to ask all registered housing societies to provide basic sanitation in accordance with commitments made by them at the time of registration.

It resolved to ensure the quality and efficacy of insecticide. Only WHO-approved insecticide will be procured and checked for maintaining quality. Instead of thermal floggers, cost-effective cold floggers will be used.

Crash programmes for orientation of medical staff will be held in Islamabad and the provinces on the basis of WHO guidelines for clinical case management. The guidelines will also be disseminated in a summarised version for the general public.

The provinces were asked to prepare comprehensive ventral-borne disease programmes so that such outbreaks could be prevented. A coordinated plan will be prepared so that provinces share their best practices with each other and handle the outbreak in an effective manner. Dr Haq said the dengue outbreak was a challenge, but community awareness was important because several unqualified actors were exploiting the situation by promoting their own products.

Sindh Special Secretary (Health) Dr Sikandar Ali Panhwar said more cases had been reported in Karachi than in other parts of the province. But due to catastrophic rains and floods, the authorities apprehend an outbreak and preparations are being made to cope with the problem.

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