It is cause for concern that, at the height of the dengue season, government hospitals still lack a uniform policy for transfusion of mega-platelets of severely ill dengue patients. According to a report, since not all government hospitals are equipped to deal with dengue, patients are sent to Civil Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for transfusion. The incompetent handling of patients by government hospitals is lamentable but not surprising.
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Health claims that it is not keeping any records of the disease because “dengue is not a serious disease”. It is ironic that this vitiation of the importance of data comes after the Dengue Surveillance Cell berated private hospitals for not giving statistics on their patients. The fact is that dengue has killed 74 people from 2006 to 2009 and there have been at least 3,242 lab-confirmed cases of the disease in the country. To say that releasing data on dengue “would only cause panic” reflects the ostrich-like attitude of the government. The panic has already been created — not by any data, but the government’s lack of preparedness at the start of the dengue season and its failure to take preventive measures like public awareness campaigns and fumigation. This has led to a 55 per cent rise in dengue cases compared to 2009.
In the current, worsening scenario, treatment through transfusion is going to be the government’s line of defence. Previous reports in the newspaper have highlighted that city hospitals have no budget to procure dengue diagnostic kits and mega-platelet bags which are crucial in the treatment of dengue. In fact, it is even unclear whether the annual Rs20 million earmarked for dengue have been released by the provincial government. With the drop in temperatures in November, dengue cases will taper off. But the government should ask itself what it did to ease the suffering of patients while the disease was taking its toll.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2010.
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