Dengue is a perennial problem in Pakistan and over the years has taken many lives as well as blighting the lives of those it does not kill. Responses at provincial level to dengue outbreaks have become increasingly effective and a meeting recently held by the K-P Public Health Committee (PHC) has outlined a national mechanism to curb inter-provincial transmission of the virus. Why this is of such importance is that there was credible evidence showing that in the majority of dengue cases reported this year the vector had origins in Sindh and Punjab.
The dengue outbreak of 2017 was the most serious of recent years and on analysis has provided a range of useful data, but data is useless unless it can be turned into an action model. The PHC discussed provincial institutional arrangements, vector and disease surveillance, case management and the procurement of supplies. There are obvious benefits to be drawn from an interprovincial harmonisation of responses to dengue outbreaks, with a common set of SOPs that would allow a national response. This is not rocket science and the competencies and resources exist already that with careful adjustment and a modicum of interprovincial goodwill could be crafted into a set of protocols that would be of universal benefit.
Corporate Social Responsibility also has a role to play, and it is suggested that Pemra could promote public awareness via the various media houses across a range of platforms as well as social media. Again this is not a difficult undertaking but does require the urge to act collaboratively, forming public-private partnerships for the greater good. There is a need for disease surveillance centres in every province and donor funding may be sought to establish these. Dengue is a condition that can be controlled and the means to do that are available nationwide. Despite this, there are reports of instances where tracts of standing water are untreated with the inevitable consequences. The means of controlling dengue are within the national grasp. Act now.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2018.
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