Dengue grossly underreported

There is a gross discrepancy between govt and private hospital statistics.

Mahnoor Sherazee September 30, 2010
Dengue grossly underreported

KARACHI: Dengue is not just spreading fast in Sindh but there is a gross discrepancy between government and private hospital statistics.

An indication of the spread is that up to eight patients a day are being administered mega platelets to counter the virus at the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD). NIBD consultant haematologist Dr Tahir Shamsi says one mega platelet bag is given per patient per day and so far this season, a total of about 200 bags have been transfused. Last year, the number for NIBD was about 100 bags.

There is a disconnect, however, between this information and that which the government is giving. The government claims that seven (compared to the 200 of NIBD) mega platelets - four in government hospitals and three in private hospitals - have been used this season. Each bag of mega platelets costs up to Rs11,000 which the patient or their family has to cough up. The discrepancy can perhaps be accounted for by the lack of information sharing between the government and private hospitals.

It is likely that the need for platelets will either remain steady or go up. The number of dengue cases has risen to 506 (not including cases at relief camps) of which 339 have tested positive and four people have died, said ministry focal person and the Additional medical superintendent of Civil hospital, Dr Shakeel Aamir Mullick.

While the government is in possession of the machine to separate platelets at some hospitals, including Civil, Abbasi Shaheed and Qatar hospitals, the service is not available “round the clock.” This is due to a number of reasons, including the shortage of technicians.

To prevent the spread of the potentially deadly virus the government has started fumigation across the city. According to the health ministry, six towns were sprayed previously and the seventh one was fumigated on Wednesday. The spray is believed to be effective for both dengue and malaria.

While speaking to The Express Tribune, the in-charge of the Malaria Unit for Sindh, Dr Naheed Jamali said that the Indoor Residual Spray (IRS), has been done in the urban relief camps. Usually this spray is for the rural areas and its effects are expected to last three months.

The number of malaria cases has been reported to have doubled from last year. The total number of slides collected from August 11 to Wednesday was 155,945, of which 9,193 were confirmed. This is less than 23 per cent, just a little over half of the dangerous limit set by the World Health Organisation of 40 per cent.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2010.


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