With dengue fever rising to epidemic proportions yet again, it is to be lamented that the country did not learn from the spread of the virus last year. Pre-emptive measures, though now touted at every turn, were obviously not stressed upon earlier this summer, which could have prevented the spread of the epidemic. Punjab is the worst hit province and Sindh comes in second, while the number of cases reported in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan is comparatively small.
Dengue fever can be avoided by following simple guidelines such as keeping utensils filled with water covered at all times; avoiding unnecessary accumulation of water; and using mosquito nets, mosquito repellents, coils and effective fumigation. The ideal thing for the provincial health departments to do would have been to take preventive measures before the onslaught of the monsoons, raising awareness among the population while making preparations in public hospitals to treat the affected. As it turns out, the concern has come too late, with the rich and poor alike being affected by the virus at an alarming rate, particularly in Lahore.
With the number of those affected rising every day, the municipal governments should do what they can to use all resources at their disposal to fumigate the affected areas and provide prompt medical treatment to all dengue patients. This should be accompanied by a campaign to make citizens understand that the dangers of the disease can be minimised by ensuring that there are no pools of standing water in and around their homes or living environment. Dengue is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue viruses. It is further spread when the mosquito bites an infected person and then transmits the virus to a non-infected person. Therefore, so long as dengue patients remain in the area, the threat of the virus cannot be wiped out. Hence it is imperative that the provincial governments act against the disease now.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2011.
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