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Dengue Menace Grips Pakistan's Peshawar, Over 1,200 Tested Positive

Most patients belong to Sarband, Achini, Sheikhan, Sheikh Mohammadi and Palosi areas where thousands of people had been infected in 2017 outbreak of dengue.

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Updated:September 4, 2019, 11:18 AM IST
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Dengue Menace Grips Pakistan's Peshawar, Over 1,200 Tested Positive
Representative image. (Image: Reuters)

Over 1,200 cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever have been reported in Pakistan’s Peshawar district in the last 25 days. Majority of the cases were reported from the rural areas in the district, mainly due to lack of coordinated efforts by line departments to ensure cleanliness, the supply of water, electricity, fumigation and generate awareness among the public regarding preventive measures.

An advisory was issued by the Pakistan health department in March this year seeking coordination among the line departments, but it went unheeded resulting in an outbreak of dengue this monsoon.

A report in Pakistan daily, Dawn reported the official document saying that over 100 health facilities in the Peshawar district have been receiving more than 100 suspected patients daily. These patients come with complaints of fever, vomiting, and abdominal pain. About 50 of them are tested positive of dengue and about 4,000 have screened so far.

City’s teaching hospitals have treated 188 patients so far, while 25 have been admitted in isolation wards. People diagnosed with dengue hemorrhagic fever aged from two to 65 years.

As per the records, most patients belong to Sarband, Achini, Sheikhan, Sheikh Mohammadi and Palosi areas where thousands of people had been infected in 2017 outbreak of dengue. Sources to Dawn blame lack of coordination among Pesco, Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP) and tehsil municipal administration to combat the spread of the mosquito-borne disease.

The sources said that unscheduled power cuts forced people to store water and thereby, provided breeding spaces to larvae. They further suggested that scheduled power load-shedding could help people in getting water supply without any need of storage.

The report further said that the health workers are deprived of sufficient funds to buy fuel and hire extra staff for carrying out intra-residential spray, which is the main reason of spread in the dengue virus.

The Pakistan daily told Director-General Health Services Dr Arshad Ahmed Khan that Peshawar, with a population of four million, recorded less than 500 cases so far. “The situation is quite satisfactory and the dengue season is going to be over in a few days. We are providing enough resources to cope with the situation throughout the province,” Dr Arshad added.

The DG Health Services further said that sanitation and hygiene habits of the society were going down rapidly. He suggested that people should be encouraged to maintain cleanliness as health department could not eradicate dengue alone.

Dr Arshad said that funds were put at the disposal of district health officer to take the desired measures. “Other sectors are throwing their burdens on health department,” he added.

The Dawn report said that the health professional associated with the anti-dengue efforts claim that despite lack of resources, they have been campaigning to scale up awareness among public by giving health education in endemic areas. However, they require special funds.

Physicians say that rural health facilities in high-risk areas should be well-equipped to work round-the-clock to prevent the epidemic from snowballing into major health issue like 2017. In 2017, thousands of people were admitted to hospitals which ran out of beds and claimed 70 deaths.

They say that historically, Peshawar district has been the mainstay of dengue virus and that people should be prepared with mosquito nets and the staff indulged in the prevention and treatment activities should be provided with transportation, fuel, honoraria and dengue risk allowance besides taking safety measures for them.

The report said that according to a spokesperson for the health department, Kamal Zada, seven cases of dengue were reported from Maira union council of Bisham tehsil during the last two days. He said that four of the patients were admitted to the dengue isolation ward established in the tehsil headquarters hospital Bisham.

Kamal Zada said that the cases might increase with the passing of time. He added that the health department was taking all the possible measures to control the situation in the area.

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