THE Directorate General of Health Services on Saturday saying that the next week could be crucial in stopping dengue from spreading and in destroying Aedes mosquitoes, the primary vector of the dengue virus, suggests that the government, along with its agencies, has finally woken up to the gravity of the situation. The government agency responsible for national health care also says that people who left the capital city for outlying areas to celebrate Eid have started returning to Dhaka when the weather is not favourable because of the recent rain that may have created an ideal environment for the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes. The director for disease control in the directorate general says that failing adequate vigil and efforts to destroy Aedes breeding grounds and to save people from mosquito bites, the dengue situation might deteriorate. Although government functionaries even in the last week of July spoke about dengue infection by way of quipping and Dhaka’s south mayor at an awareness programme on steps to get relief from mosquito menace sought to say that media reports on dengue infection are ‘rumours’, the attitude of government agencies now suggest that they may have realised the gravity of the situation and they only need to bolster their statements with the action having the required level of political will.
Official records show that there have already been 51,476 hospital admissions with complaints of dengue infection this year and 33,015 of them took place in 17 days of August alone and 16,253 in July. Although the official figure of death from dengue has remained stuck at 40 for a few days, private estimates put the figure at 107 as of Saturday. Besides, although the government does not hold month-wise data on dengue incidence having taken place before 2014, records show that September had the highest incidence of dengue infection in three of the past five years and experts a couple of days ago have sounded warning that dengue infection could intensify in the coming days and the situation could run well into October. Expert warnings sounded a couple of days ago and the statements of health services managers put together suggest that the government should go all out in stemming dengue infection and in destroying the breeding grounds of Aedes mosquitoes. And such grounds do include not only standing water in containers such as buckets, bowls, flower pots and vases in households and around them but also all large water sources such as drains, ditches, ponds, lakes and storm basins where mosquitoes usually hide. Open spaces such as parks, playgrounds, recreational spaces and graveyards having litters that could hold rain water could also be potential breeding grounds of Aedes mosquitoes. And they all need to be cleaned.
The government has already launched a mobile application, developed by five government agencies, for reporting dengue infection and suspected dengue breeding grounds but the government and all its agencies must be serious about acting on such reporting. With all other measures remaining in place, the government must also run an integrated, comprehensive cleaning drive in Dhaka and outside for days and at regular intervals to destroy the breeding grounds of Aedes mosquitoes aimed at stopping dengue from spreading.
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