The Punjab government began planning long-term measures to combat the dengue virus on Saturday, as another nine people died to bring the toll from the current epidemic to 124 in Lahore.
A special committee led by Prof Faisal Masood has been set up to make a long-term strategy to combat the disease and given until October 15 to finalise it, said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, at a meeting with health experts and government officials.
He said that the committee would consider measures such as creating special dengue wards in hospital, incorporating dengue into the medical school syllabus and training courses, and research needs.
The chief minister said that the Institute of Public Health had a big part to play in research into viral diseases.
He said a research cell was being set up under his direct supervision which would conduct research into dengue and other viruses active in this region.
He told officials to consult with experts and then prepare literature on preventive measures against dengue.
Meanwhile, a 20-member Indonesian medical team arrived in Lahore to advise the government on dengue control. Sharif welcomed the team, saying he hoped that Pakistani experts could learn from Indonesia’s success at handling the disease.
“We are thankful to the president, government and people of Indonesia for sending a team of medical experts in this hour of trial,” he said.
The health and education secretaries and the Lahore district coordination officer briefed the Indonesians on the steps taken by the government to control the disease so far.
Dr Rita, who headed the Indonesian team in Lahore, told reporters that it would be an honour to assist the government in any way in the fight against dengue. The team would share Indonesia’s experience of fighting dengue for 40 years.
He said that two tonnes of medicine and other equipment had been sent to Pakistan from Indonesia.
Nine people including 15-year-old Mubasher, an only brother to seven sisters, died of the dengue virus on Saturday, raising the death toll to 124 in Lahore and 134 in the Punjab.
More than 467 cases of dengue were reported in the province in the last 24 hours, including 393 from Lahore. So far 12,846 people have been diagnosed with dengue in the Punjab and 11,247 in Lahore.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2011.