Sterile insect techniques (SIT) will be introduced in Pakistan to minimise the risk of an outbreak of dengue fever.
The technique is a part of a long-term strategy which involves irradiating mosquito pupae to create infertile male mosquitoes which will still attempt to breed but will fail to produce offspring, thus gradually reducing the mosquito population.
The idea was floated at the inaugural session of the five-day Second Regional Dengue Workshop held on Tuesday at the National Centre for Physics (NCP).
Organised by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the workshop aims to enable participants to help in evolving a long-term strategy for dengue control.
Around 65 health care providers, scientists and researchers from across the country along with four international health experts are participating in the event. They expressed their satisfaction with measures taken by the govt to control the dengue fever this year.
However, they said that while the influence of disease in the short term has faded, there is no question that it will not return every summer.
Talking to The Express Tribune, PAEC Hospitals Director General Dr Zubair Hasan said the idea of SIT was floated in the workshop, but noted that it is still in progress and will take seven to eight years to complete.
In the meantime, he said there is a need to work more on short-term strategies at primary level.
This includes public awareness, especially among housewives. They need to know of all household items where mosquitoes breed, such as flower pots, discarded tyres, water storage containers, broken bottles and cups, and to make sure there is no standing water on the floors of washrooms, kitchen or driveways, he said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Holy Family Hospital (HFH) Deputy Medical Superintendent (DMS) Dr Javed Hayat said it is a known fact that dengue mosquito breeds in clean water, but oddly, the majority of dengue fever cases reported in Rawalpindi last year came from areas near Nullah Leh.
He said of the 2,635 suspected cases reported in the allied hospitals of Rawalpindi last year, 873 were diagnosed positive. This year, 196 suspected cases were reported in the allied hospitals, none which none were diagnosed positive.
Meanwhile Dr Rosemary Lees, a health expert from Austria, said that Regional Concept on Dengue, a four-year project, will start in Pakistan in 2014.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2012.