A fresh outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease caused by the dengue virus has left residents in Jamrud subdivision of Khyber tribal district dazed and in a spot of bother this week. In a matter of days, the number of patients affected by the virus rose to 150.
The health authorities rushed to counter the threat with a five-day campaign against the virus in Jamrud. In the absence of an effective antidote against this pesky virus or no specific treatment for dengue patients, health officials were forced to fall back on a cocktail of essential measures for stopping its spread. Prudence demands that contact is limited between people and vectors and is arguably the best way to prevent dengue infections.
One of these techniques involves proper environmental management of dengue mosquito populations through what is called source reduction or elimination of habitats where mosquitoes live and breed. To employ such strategies the health authorities have constituted nearly three dozen teams to fight the spread of dengue. Ordinary households can in their own way take the fight to the dengue-causing mosquitoes by introducing major changes in their community, such as installing water systems with direct connections to homes and replacing water-storage containers and wells that serve as mosquito-breeding habitats.
An important step at this stage is building the capacity of households as well as that of additional trainers engaged in the anti-dengue campaign. The effectiveness of the Jamrud campaign depends on how well the public awareness drive is handled. Any initiative aimed at teaching people about mosquito vectors and the risks of having mosquito-breeding habitats near their homes is invaluable. There are a number of actions that could be taken at the individual level to reduce contact with mosquitoes. Government efforts are usually successful when there is eholescale public participation and one hopes the Jamrud drive keeps dengue mosquitoes at bay long enough until the winter kicks in.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2018.