LAHORE: After polio workers, dengue teams seem to be the target of certain elements as officials visiting Union Council 57 in Aziz Bhatti were attacked with bricks. Two of the workers suffered head injuries as a result.
However, this time, instead of militants attacking the health teams, it was locals who resorted to fisticuffs; allegedly in an effort to avoid being fined.
The locals refused to accept the presence of larvae in their area and this sparked the altercation.
Later, law enforcement agencies and senior citizens intervened, while the culprits were sent to the local police station.
“They are refusing to cooperate with dengue and polio teams for their own benefit,” commented a spokesman health of the department.
While talking to The Express Tribune, he said although it was an unfortunate incident and two team members were severely injured, police arrested the culprits and lodged an FIR against them.
“Please do not consider this a terrorist attack. It was a tiny issue which was resolved after the intervention of senior citizens and the health department,” he stated.
Muhammad Kashif, a resident of the area, said lady health workers found dengue larvae in water drums and complained to other male counterparts who were standing outside.
“Later on, locals had a confrontation with the women and started beating the men,” he said.
“After seeing health workers on the street, a large group of people from the neighborhood gathered and started arguing. Young men from the mob abused the health team and condemned the Punjab chief minister for the anti-dengue spray campaign,” he said.
“Our children are being suffocated and hospitalised by the anti-dengue spray. We don’t want the spray in our locality,” he quoted one of the protesters as saying.
At the same time, lady health also faced difficulties as they were trapped inside the house where they spotted water drums with dengue larvae. “The women were allegedly assaulted and harassed, only managing to escape after great difficulty,” the spokesman added.
The injured health workers, identified as Hafiz Nauman and Muhammad Naveed, were taken to Services Hospital and discharged after being kept under observation for several hours.
This is the first assault on health workers associated with the anti-dengue campaign in Lahore, though polio vaccinators have been attacked in the past.
Dengue fever has already claimed over a 100 lives in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and doctors have suggested extreme vigilance due to rain in different parts of Punjab. The season is highly vulnerable and the government should remain vigilant in this regard, medical experts suggested.
In a press release, Khwaja Salman Rafique condemned the attack on dengue workers. He added special dengue surveillance would be carried out to check the virus at any cost.
He further ordered if dengue was not be confirmed in suspected patients, tests for Chikungunya should also be carried to remove all doubts.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2017.