As local medics struggle with the swelling number of dengue patients in Punjab, the World Health Organization (WHO) has lent a hand to Pakistan.
The specialised health agency of the United Nations will send a dengue fever expert team, which is due to arrive in Islamabad on Sunday (today). “The WHO team will suggest measures to authorities to eliminate breeding sites and vector control measures,” read a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Secretariat on Saturday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has actively been seeking assistance from abroad and has approached countries that have faced the disease before in order to learn and replicate their methods in fighting the virus.
“Pakistan missions in countries that have suffered dengue fever outbreaks and have successfully controlled it, have been instructed to approach their host governments to provide their expertise in dealing with the epidemic in Pakistan,” read a statement from the ministry.
The number of patients in Punjab has surpassed 8,800, out of which 7,900 are in Lahore. The death toll currently stands at 83.
In order to eradicate the virus, both the federal and provincial governments have taken several steps. The Emergency Relief Cell (ERC) at the foreign affairs ministry is also coordinating international assistance to combat dengue fever. A team of specialists from Sri Lanka has already arrived in Punjab. The MOFA has also revealed that the Indonesian government will send a 19-member medical team after a request from the Pakistani ambassador in Jakarta.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has issued directives to set up field hospitals in Punjab. Earlier this week Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani chaired the National Conference on Dengue Response and assured those present that the matter of exempting machinery for fighting dengue from taxes would be discussed with the Federal Board of Revenue and the federal as well as provincial governments.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2011.