DENGUE prevalence in the capital Dhaka is reported to have been alarming, especially since May, as 148 patients have so far been cared for in hospital since the time. In all, as Directorate General of Health Services records show, 258 people have been in hospital with dengue infection this year and two of them have died. While health officials and experts term the situation ‘alarming’, what remains to be further worrying is that the situation has not at all improved in comparison with the situation that it was in 2018. The number of dengue cases is reported to have been the highest in 2018 since 2000 as at least 26 people died of dengue and 10,148 patients in all were in hospital, as official records say, only in the capital city that year. A government survey has, moreover, also found a high presence of the dengue vector, Aedes aegypti mosquito, in the capital. The situation is worrying because the survey was conducted in March 3–13, when the monsoon was yet to set in, and samples were collected from 998 households of all sorts in 100 places in 97 of the 101 wards under the two city corporations of Dhaka.
The survey finds a high presence of Aedes larvae in water collected in waste tyres, plastic drums, buckets, open tanks and flower tubs, with the threat being high in areas under the South City Corporation than under the north. The survey was based on three most used indicators — the house index or the percentage of houses invested with larvae and pupae, the container index or the percentage of water-holding containers invested with larvae or pupae and the Breteau index or the number of positive containers per 100 houses inspected. Aedes infestation in five of 100 households inspected indicates a severe situation, but the survey has found more than five in every 100 households in all areas infested. On the Breateau index, 20 means of larvae presence indicates a risky situation while the survey at hand has found 70–80 means on the index, which experts seek to term ‘horrific.’ The government conducted a similar survey in early 2018 when it found a high presence of Aedes mosquitoes in 19 neighbourhoods of the capital city. It was an impending danger that city authorities had till then ignored. And it continued to be an impending danger even after a year had gone by.
The health services directorate general, which conducted both the surveys, is reported to have sounded repeated warnings in 2018 for the city authorities and health managers for urgent action to head off any disaster. Yet the menace grew in a large measure and even now, the situation at hand brings to the fore a lack of preparedness, especially in awareness creation, on part of the all authorities concerned to fight the menace. The government, in such a situation, must immediately shore up issues such as social campaigns, mosquito control drives and healthcare preparedness before the situation turns into a disaster.
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