Dengue epidemic

In the last two months, 16 people have died and 1,841 confirmed cases of dengue have officially — according to the federal government — been detected in the country. However, according to some reports, the numbers are far more than the official ones. The dengue virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of a female Aedes mosquito. An infected patient serves as the main carrier and multiplier of the virus. While feeding on the blood of infected patients, other mosquitoes also contract the virus, spinning off a vicious cycle. Unlike other mosquitoes, the Aedes mosquito breeds on fresh water.Pakistan is littered with internally displaced persons (IDPs), either from the military operations in Swat and South Waziristan or the recent floods. Millions of IDPs are still living in makeshift camps. The vast majority being children, women and old people, it is these people who are at the greatest risk from the dengue virus. Although local and federal governments have carried out fumigation in different parts of the country, this trend is the exception and not the rule. Also, fumigation is only taking place in wealthy urban areas, which are the least likely to be infected with the deadly virus.

Not one to be left out of the limelight for too long, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has suspended Health EDO Dr Fayyaz Ahmad Ranjha for failing to take proper measures to control dengue outbreak in Lahore. Traditionally, fumigation in Lahore is done in September but this year the provincial government was unable or unwilling to carry out this essential task. Subsequently, there are 1,400 confirmed cases of dengue virus in different hospitals of Lahore. Just in the last 24 hours 125 new cases were confirmed, showing the pandemic that is gripping the city. We would like to remind Mr Sharif that he is the chief minister of Punjab and not just Lahore.

Our federal and provincial governments only react to catastrophes. They fail to be pro-active and plan ahead. Alarm bells should be ringing in the corridors of power. There is a need to fight the dengue virus on a war footing. There is still time. But action must be taken now, before the dengue virus becomes another tragedy for the people of Pakistan – Dailytimes