Prevention & Control Programmes must be expanded and enriched
Karachi: Peak season of malaria and dengue viral fever has begun in Sindh province with first spell of monsoon rain and will continue till December 2014, but Dengue Prevention and Control Program is still virtually non-functional, and needs up-gradation. The negligence occurs due to the internal-differences among top officials of the health department, putting hundreds of lives at stake in Karachi city and other parts of the Sindh province.
An official of health department Sindh on condition of anonymity said; Dengue Surveillance Cell Sindh was upgraded into Dengue Prevention and Control Program about five months ago. The government allocated millions of rupees for surveillance and prevention during the year 2014, but unfortunately the program could not become fully functional due to several reasons. A number of important posts are still vacant and projects remain unmanned.
He said; The peak season of malaria and dengue viral fever has started in Sindh and will continue till December as dengue larvae breeding increases during this time period. He informed that dengue cases were being reported from Karachi over the last eight years, but no concrete steps have been taken so far. He said provincial government while keeping in mind, the last year dengue cases reported in Karachi, had upgraded the dengue cell into a comprehensive program for better surveillance and prevention, but the conflicts between officials has kept the work halted.
On the other hand, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) was not able to carry out anti-dengue fumigation campaign on time, in different parts of Karachi city, due to shortage of funds. Official said fumigation, preventative measures, biological control of dengue mosquitoes and training of doctors could not start yet across the province due to the non-functional program.
He informed that a significant number dengue cases are being reported in different healthcare centres of Karachi on daily basis, but the administration of the dengue program could not share any meaningful data with the media, over the last several months. Six people have died and 200 dengue cases were reported till April 2014, if we look at the last data shared by Dengue Surveillance Cell, before it was up-graded.
He further informed that over 5750 dengue viral fever cases were reported across the Sindh province in 2013, out of which 5058 were detected in Karachi and 692 in the rest of Sindh province last year.
Similarly, a total of 32 dengue fever patients died across the province last year, out of which 26 deaths were in Karachi, three in Hyderabad and one each in Mirpurkhas, Thatta and Larkana.
Secretary General of the Pakistan Medical Association Center – Mirza Ali Azhar said; Performance of Dengue Prevention and Control Program is operating below the required standards as compared to last year and it seemed that this program has become inactive in the province. He said; The peak season of dengue has started in Karachi with the start of the current monsoon rain and the concerned authorities should increase the surveillance measures and capacity of the program to prevent people from falling prey to the dengue viral disease.
He feared that dengue might take the shape of an epidemic if the proper monitoring and surveillance of dengue cases are not started at the earliest, across the province. PMA always keeps Public Health issues on top of its priority list. The general public should not be affected due to the trivial internal-differences among the health officials.
Provincial Manager of the Dengue Prevention and Control Program Sindh – Dr M Shakeel Aamir Mullick said that: Eight people have already died from dengue viral fever so far during the year 2014. Over 450 dengue fever cases have been reported in 2014 out of which, a majority of cases were reported from Karachi.