Dengue Fever Toll Rising

Posted on October 29, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Health & Disease, Society
10 Comments
Total Views: 96353

Adil Najam

Like many others, I have been following with great concern the rapid spread of Dengue Fever in Pakistan and across the region.

In India, for example, the death toll from Dengue is now up to 144 and the number of afflicted at more than 8180 (here). In Pakistan, at least 25 deaths have been reported and the death rate from Dengue is significantly more than elsewhere (here). The population is now, rightly, very worried. As many as 1800 cases have been confirmed and far more are expected (here):

According to the statistics of National Institute of Health, blood samples of 89 suspected Dengue Fever patients have been received, out of which 39 cases have been diagnosed positive. In Islamabad, 21 out of 61 suspected Dengue Fever cases found positive. Thus, the number of Dengue Fever patients in the twin cities is 60…. A report from Lahore says that the management of Sheikh Zaid hospital has been tight-lipped on deaths of two dengue fever patients in the hospital whereas four more patients infected by dengue virus have been detected… According to another report, following Karachi, Sindh interior, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, dengue fever seemed to have entered the NWFP province also, as the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the death of a child, 7 with all the symptoms of suffering from the dengue fever… The ministry [of Health] said that the dengue in Sindh has taken the toll of 27 lives and 78 dengue patients have been admitted into the different hospitals in Karachi during the last 24 hours, while in the same period 92 patients were discharged from the hospitals in Karachi and Sindh after the recovery from dengue fever.

This is obviously serious and has the potential to exacerbate other health challenges and is putting further strain on an already inadequate health infrastructure.

Yet, from what I can gather from the media reports, it seems that both governmental and civil society institutions are reacting to this outbreak in a concerted and thought-out fashion. Newspapers have regularly been carrying large advertisements from the Health Ministry outlining the steps that citizens can take (click on image in this post). Elaborate information and detection strategies are being developed and deployed. Hospitals have stepped up their Dengue-related services. Travel services from PIA and Pakistan Railways are taking measures to contain the spread of the disease.

Yet, from what I can gather from the media reports, it seems that both governmental and civil society institutions are reacting to this outbreak in a concerted and thought-out fashion. Newspapers have regularly been carrying large advertisements from the Health Ministry outlining the steps that citizens can take (click on image in this post). Elaborate information and detection strategies are being developed and deployed. Hospitals have stepped up their Dengue-related services. Travel services from PIA and Pakistan Railways are taking measures to contain the spread of the disease.

As with so many health challenges – and more than most because of its nature – Dengue is likely to hit the poorest and already vulnerable populations the most. I just hope that all this reported action at the national, provincial and local levels will bear results and we can minimize, to the extent possible, its spread and damage.

10 responses to “Dengue Fever Toll Rising”

  1. Daktar says:

    The key step being taken is large scale fumigation and that has its own challenges and dangers. There are some reports of fumigation being uneven and not very carefully done. But in general the state of public concern is high and civil society response is good.

  2. Kashif says:

    Actually it is the responsibility of civil society, government, religious factions etc to spread awareness about it but unfortunately nobody is playing their part properly and everybody is busy in the blamegame. Like many other things CDGK has failed in prevention and control of dengue fever and not accepting it.

  3. bhindigosht says:

    Samdani,
    I am not sure that the health ministry has its act together. I think the media is doing a fair to good job of keeping people informed. I think the issue is not that this has happened, but that the health ministry needs to learn from this, and put systems in place for the next event. Thank God that the Govt has not invited “foreign experts” to deal with this…yet.
    As an example, KPT learnt absolutely NOTHING from the Tasman spirit disaster, and had to invite the “foreign experts” again, when an oil carrying tanker/boat/launch capsized recently near Karachi.
    As far a the public is concerned, I called a relative in Mansehra this morning, and when asked about Dengue, their response was ” sunna hai macchar kaat rahe hain…..khuda in machharon say bachaay”.

  4. Samdani says:

    Maybe I am just in a bad mood today, but I look at the comments on the various posts and they reflect the priorities we have. BB or Mush? Beard length? Where to pray? All this we get all worked up about. Actual people dying, and a situation where we can actually do something. That is not juicy enough!!!! Pathetic.

    On Dengue, I am also quite impressed at how teh newspapers and public health people seem to be doing the right thing. Especially the press has been quite good about informing and educating people rather than just scaring them. I hear the major hospitals are also very active in citizen public health education on this. I hope these impressions are correct.

  5. Adnan Siddiqi says:

    Two died in my area on eid days. *sigh*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*