Detergent foam can be used for vector control in fishing the dengue fever spread, doctors who recently went to Thailand and Sri Lanka for training in handling the disease.
Tahira Maryam, an education officer at the EDO (health) office and Dr Saadia Rehman, an entomologist at the Rawalpindi EDO (health) office, were sent to attend the Dengue Epidemic Prevention Control and Management training in the two countries.
They said detergent foam had been found to be very effective in killing dengue larvae. They said a detergent-water solution made with one spoon of detergent to two litres of water should be used to clean the houses.
“The technique is effective only for households. It does not have any residual effect,” they said.
Entomologist Dr Wasim Akram, also the head of the Dengue Research Group, also endorsed the technique.
Dr Rehman said that research and surveillance groups had been formed at several levels in Thailand to suggest how best to control the dengue virus. She said Thailand had laws regarding communicable diseases including dengue fever. A dengue day was also observed to create awareness about the disease and preventive measures among the citizens. She suggested that OPDs should be improved to treat dengue effectively. Capacity building among junior staff, she added, was also very important. “Nurses should be trained in ways to judge which dengue patient needs to be treated by senior doctors. They have achieved this in Thailand,” she said.
She also proposed an online system to guide patients and care givers and coordinate with them, so that the patients load on teaching hospitals can be lessened.
Dr Tariq Salahuddin, the LGH Post Graduate Medical Institute principal, was also present. He said it should not be forgotten that Pakistan does not have the health infrastructure available in Thailand or other developed countries. He also stressed the need for a credible information system differentiating patients of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. He said some 500,000 people had approached teaching public hospitals during the 2011 epidemic.
Dr Somia Iqtidar, a Mayo Hospital senior registrar, said that Pakistan had to live with dengue for some time. The goal, she said, was to reduce dengue-related mortality and morbidity. She said that primary health care system should be strengthened.
“There should be a standardised referral and notification system to reduce dengue-related deaths to no more than one per cent,” she said.
Dr Mohammad Ali, head of the Services Hospital paediatrics department, said the course in Thailand and Sri Lanka was pre-structured. He suggested that more health professionals be sent on training.
“The outcomes so far have been good, but the real target is not allowing dengue to become an epidemic again,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2012.