Govt must look into dengue negligence allegations

Published at 12:00am on September 27, 2019

CORRUPTION in procuring adulticide and mismanagement in containing Aedes mosquitoes that a Transparency International, Bangladesh report says are responsible for an unprecedented dengue outbreak this year are worrisome. The study, conducted in August 20–September 20, also gives the absence of effective planning in containing the menace as a reason for the epidemic scale that dengue menace became. Death from dengue has, as the Directorate General of Health Services says, so far totalled 224 while at least 86,543 patients have so far been in hospital with complaints of dengue infection. In 2018, 10,148 patients were admitted to hospital while 26 died; in 2017, 2,769 patients were admitted to hospital while 8 died; in 2016, 6,060 patients were admitted to hospital while 14 died; and in 2015, 3,162 were admitted to hospital while 6 died. The incidence of dengue this year was the severest, with both the number of patients and the figure of death being more than eight times than what they were in 2018. Moreover, dengue for the first time this year, since its first reported incidence in Bangladesh in 2000, spread all over Bangladesh.

The Transparency International, Bangladesh findings say that in addition to corruption and irregularities of the city authorities in Dhaka in the procurement of larvicide and adulticide, the authorities from the very beginning of the outbreak either made mistakes in anticipating the scale and intensity of the menace or wilfully chose to ignore such a high incidence. They did not only choose not to heed the warnings that the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research sounded but also ignored the warnings that a government survey, conducted in March 3–13, when the monsoon was yet to set in, sounded. The authorities, even when the infection had already been epidemic in the last week of July, sought to say that media reports on dengue infection were ‘rumours’. The study further finds that the authorities used ineffective adulticide to kill Aedes mosquitoes and misused funds in the procurement of adulticide, larvicide and fogging machines. The proportion soon reached out of hands, with the daily hospital admission in 24 hours hovering around 2,400 people with dengue complaints.

With Transparency International, Bangladesh having come up with such findings, it is now imperative for the government to look into the issues of corruption and irregularities in larvicide and adulticide procurement and indolence in working out an effective plan to fight the dengue menace. While the government, on credible investigations, must take action against all the people responsible, it must also learn to have a better preparation in place to fight such a menace in future.