RAWALPINDI: Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed received a rude welcome by disgruntled people at Holy Family Hospital (HFH) on Thursday.
People, including attendants of patients, started chanting anti-government slogans and “go, Niazi, go” when they saw the federal minister with his entourage of bureaucrats and security detail.
The minister, while talking to the media, said he was going to Lahore to discuss the dengue situation with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.
Earlier he visited HFH dengue ward and inquired after patients’ wellbeing and healthcare facilities in the hospital. Most of the patients complained about the laxity of government in the campaign. They said that dengue mosquitoes were swarming in their areas but the authorities were not spraying there.
The minster assured the people that would not happen in future.
When Rashid reached outside the hospital for media talk, he was encircled by a large number of people, mainly from families of dengue patients, who started chanting anti-government slogans. Amid this uproar, Rashid continued to give clarifications and said that emergency had been declared in six hospitals including allied hospitals in Rawalpindi while five private hospitals would also provide dengue treatment in Rawalpindi.
He noted that special dengue wards have been set up in the hospitals including Rawalpindi Railway Hospital, Red Crescent and Cantonment Hospital owing to the influx of dengue patients every day.
He assured the angry public that he would personally monitor the anti-dengue campaign in his native city.
He further expressed that he was going to Lahore to meet Chief Minister Usman Buzdar where he would discuss worsening dengue situation in Garrison town.
The minister said Rawalpindi deputy commissioner has been suspended over inadequate arrangements for controlling the spread of the deadly virus.
The minister concluded his media talk and left in his car amidst echoes of people chanting anti-government slogans.
Patients, attendants locked out of BBH
Administration of Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) locked the gates and many wards of BBH to show an “all is well” image to Punjab Primary and Secondary Health Secretary Muhammad Usman.
The entry and exit of OPD, dengue medical and surgical wards, ICU and operation theatres were closed for over an hour during the visit of health secretary.
The lockdown caused problems for people coming from faraway places for treatment. The patients and attendants kept quarrelling with security guards who were seen pleading that they were only following orders and doing their job.
Later, chairing a meeting to review anti-dengue campaign in Rawalpindi, Usman along with Commissioner Saqib Zafar and DC Saif Ullah Dogar, directed the quarter concerned that surveillance activities for tracing of larvae and its eradication be expedited besides focusing on hotspots from where dengue cases are being reported and to pay full attention to areas where from larva has been detected during current checking.
Additional Deputy Commissioner Saima Younas briefed the meeting about the prevailing situation.
Out of control
The dengue outbreak continues in twin cities despite every move taken by the government.
Over past 24-hours, 294 more dengue patients checked into hospitals of garrison city. These included 121 people from Rawalpindi and 173 from neighbouring Islamabad.
Some 82 cases alone surfaced from the worst-hit area of Potohar Town whereas rest of them were reported from cantonment and city. With the latest numbers included, the total figure of dengue patients reported this season has escalated to 3,131.
As of now, some 1,843 patients have been reported from Rawalpindi, 1,267 from Islamabad, 10 from Chakwal, nine from Attock and only two cases from Jhelum.
Owning to the ensuing influx of patients, the dengue wards in allied hospitals have gone out space while the disease has created a psychological impact on people of twin cities.
A doctor also fell victim to the virus. Kallar Sayedan Tehsil Head Quarters Hospital Medical Officer Dr Jazib was taking care of dengue patients. Lately, his health started deteriorating and the subsequent blood test showed that he had contracted the viral disease.
To cope up with the epidemic, the health department has inducted 800 daily-wage employees in the anti-dengue squad after which the collective number of squad members has risen to 2,170.
Regarding ineffectiveness of anti-dengue campaign, the environmental and health experts are of the view that the spread of the virus could only be curtailed if dengue eggs and larvae were destroyed on time.
They said the other way was to wait for the cold season in which dengue risk almost became zero.
Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) has tasked mobile van teams to keep a check on water reservoirs under anti-dengue operations on a regular basis
The field staff has been directed to thoroughly inspect all water filtration plants, main water supply lines and filling stations daily and to destroy every trace of dengue larvae found.
Further, Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and Wasa Chairman Arif Abbasi visited installations in Liaquat Bagh along with Wasa Managing Director (MD) Muhammad Tanvir yesterday.
On the occasion, Abbasi said that all possible actions should be taken to curb the dengue epidemic. He expressed that stagnant water should not be left at any spot within Wsas’s premises while all protective measures should be taken to eliminate the disease.
The chairman was also briefed by MD regarding anti-dengue measures who told that the agency was playing its due role in the campaign by working shoulder-to-shoulder with the health department and civic bodies.
Meanwhile, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) got cases registered against 40 warehouses in respective police stations after recovery of dengue larvae from the premises.
Separately, the Auqaf Department following strict orders from the government checked mosques and mazars for dengue larvae. During the search, Jamia Masjid Noorani Rawal Town was found infested with dengue larvae. The spawns of dengue mosquito found in a mosque were readily eliminated, while the administration of the worship place was given strict warning.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2019.