Govt must have long-run plans against dengue

Published: 00:00, Aug 17,2019


WITH the official figure of death from dengue remaining almost stuck at 40 for a few days but private estimates putting it at 104 as of Thursday, a fresh warning that dengue infection might continue to take place well into October sounds intimidating. And this very well should serve as a wakeup call for the authorities, particularly the city authorities of Dhaka and other local government institutions and generally the government, even after more than 48,000 people have received treatment for dengue in hospital so far this year. The highest number of hospital admission this year was recorded on August 7 with 2,428, and the lowest, with 1,200, on August 12, which was the day after Eid-ul-Azha, which is believed to have stopped many patients from rushing to hospital. While the severity of dengue outbreak had the holiday of health officials cancelled, physicians struggled to manage the rush of dengue patients and people frantically looked for blood for patients in blood banks, blood collection organisations and on social networking sites. Yet government functionaries first showed indifference, if not denial, of a sort for certain period and then started waking up to the reality.

While the outbreak initially remained limited to the areas of the capital city, as had been the case since the first reported occurrence of dengue in 2000, it started spreading outside Dhaka in the fourth week of July, spread all over Bangladesh in a week and severity in outlying areas outweighed that in Dhaka in one more week. The government is reported not have held any month-wise data on dengue infection before 2014, yet the data show that September had the highest number of infection in three of the past five years. The highest incidence in 2018 was reported in September, in 2017 in October, in 206 and 2015 in September and in 2014 in July. The figures suggest that dengue may have a higher incidence well into October and it brings the fears that both the government, along with its agencies, and the people need to learn to live with. With all the efforts — effectively killing Aedes mosquito larvae and pupae, making people aware of cleaning the household and surroundings and what else to do to save themselves from dengue infection, strengthening the institutional capacity of health services to treat dengue patients and stepping up efforts to make people know of the importance of blood donation — remaining in place, government agencies should religiously carry out cleaning the environment, open spaces, drains, ponds, lakes and the litters that could collect water to serve as the breeding ground of Aedes mosquitoes.

As the dengue menace does not end, and cannot be wiped out, overnight or even in a year, the government must have long-run plans, chalked up taking on board all stakeholders and citizens, to fight the menace of Aedes mosquitoes. The government must step up its surveillance and reporting mechanism regarding dengue infection so that early action could be taken and must put in place the measures thus decided across the country with the same earnestness. Along with what the government is doing to manage the dengue situation, it must also prepare the citizens to learn to live with the fears without being affected.

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