A petition has been filed in the Lahore High Court accusing the Punjab government of “criminal negligence” and covering up the number of people infected with dengue.
The petitioner, Advocate Noshab A Khan, said that government functionaries were dragging their feet on basic procedures like mapping the extent of the spread of the virus and asked the court to summon the health secretary to explain.
He said that the Health Department had reported that just over a thousand people were infected with dengue, when some 2,000 cases had been diagnosed by family physicians and at the more than 100 private hospitals in Lahore. He said the department only collected reports from a few major private hospitals. The department’s strategy had been declared a success, he said, when in truth it had deprived many people of proper treatment.
Khan said that the outbreak this year was a direct result of the health authorities’ “flawed plan” to control the virus. He said there was also a shortage of platelet kits needed for treatment. He said that the insecticide being used in the fumigation campaign by the city district government of Lahore was of a poor quality and so the exercise was ineffective. The advocate asked the court to punish the officials concerned for being late to recognise the magnitude of the threat and failing to gauge the scale of the outbreak.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif chaired a meeting reviewing the government strategy to combat dengue where he told officials from various departments to coordinate closely on the matter. He directed them to step up the purchase of medicines.
Addressing the meeting, the chief minister said that a comprehensive action plan should be made to protect citizens from the disease. He said that pesticide should be sprayed in houses and streets. He said that committees headed by elected representatives and including members of civil society should be constituted at the mohalla level and then mobilised to raise awareness about preventive measures.
Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, parliamentarians Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Afzal Khokhar, Dr Saeed Elahi and Dr Tahir Ali Javed, the secretaries for health, local government and information, the director general for health services, the district coordination officer and senior doctors also attended the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2011.
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