Mosquitoes swarm metropolis

Health, municipal authorities unclear about division of responsibilities


Afzal Talib May 04, 2021

LAHORE:

Despite the allocation of funds, the health and local bodies officials are yet to take effective steps to check the increase in mosquito breeding in the province with the onset of the summer.

The number of mosquitoes around sewers, ponds, green belts and garbage heaps is increasing in the absence of any systemic effort to eliminate them. Instead of taking action, the metropolitan corporation and health authority are putting the responsibility on each other. The situation has left the citizens exposed to the treat of coronavirus outside and mosquito bites in their homes.

In addition to the municipal services offered by the local government agencies, the epidemiology department works under the health authority to eradicate seasonal diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, polio and malaria.

There were more than 300 ponds in Lahore as well as thousands of miles of sewerage lines, including open sewers in undeveloped areas and garbage dumps, parks and green belts. However, many of the ponds have disappeared over time.

The district health officer and more than 5,000 employees carry out spray in all the high-risk places and residences to kill the mosquitoes as soon as the summer season starts.

A budget of millions of rupees is allocated for the work across the province. Under the previous government, the health authorities were created without taking into account the ground realities in the style of the set-up for the education department. The responsibilities were also not defined clearly.

The metropolitan corporation has handed over more than 5,000 spray tanks, machines and vehicles to the health authority so that it can fulfill the responsibilities.

However, as the summer season has begun, there is no coordination between the health authority and the metropolitan corporation regarding mosquito eradication. No campaign has been launched for the purpose.

The population of Lahore has crossed 12 million and it is estimated that the number of small and large houses in the city is around six million. There are about 1.5 million government and private offices and about 8,000 hotels and restaurants, almost all of which are affected by the proliferation of mosquitoes.

While the citizens are complaining about inaction on part of the authorities, officials of the department of health and the metropolitan corporation are attempting to shift the responsibility onto each other instead of bringing relief for them.

The problems appear to have increased due to the lack of clarity in the division of the responsibilities.

The fear of mosquito-borne diseases has added to the woes of the citizens of the provincial capital amid the unrelenting coronavirus pandemic.

Talking to The Express Tribune, the Health Authority’s Chief Executive Officer Siddique Ahmed said insecticide spray was under way in the hotspot areas of the city to eradicate dengue mosquitoes.

He said that at least 12 citizens had been found suffering from dengue fever in the provincial capital at the time, of whom three are hospitalized and nine are at their homes.

He said that no malaria patient had been admitted to any hospital in Lahore, due to which malaria spray was not being carried out.

When asked about spraying for mosquito eradication at its breeding grounds across the city, including houses, parks, sewers, open drains and green belts, he said it was the responsibility of the municipal corporation. “If a citizen has a complaint, he or she can apply there and also in our office.”

Commissioner Lahore Division and Administrator Metropolitan Corporation Muhammad Usman said that after the establishment of the health authority the responsibility had been assigned to it. “We will call all the agencies concerned and determine the responsibilities soon.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2021.

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