Even when PMD warned of the likelihood of a dengue outbreak in 10 major cities and flood-hit areas — due to the climatic conditions in the post-monsoon season — officials failed to take precautionary measures. Utter negligence has caused the dengue fever to spread rapidly across provinces. In the past 24 hours, Sindh has seen 254 cases, Punjab recorded 373, while K-P witnessed the highest single day rise so far with 392 cases.
Pathetic and futile response from officials has caused much dismay to citizens as dengue-related deaths are also on the rise. Apart from failing to systematically carry out anti-dengue operations to eliminate breeding grounds, officials have also been unable to drain and clear out water bodies to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. Instead of sincerely working towards curbing the threat, the government has very conveniently provided citizens with a list of SOPs that they should follow in order to protect themselves — while indecision and slackness seem to be the order of the day. Moreover, as expected, the outbreak is turning out to be a health crisis and hospitals are seen quickly filling up with patients, which is putting further stress on the healthcare system in the aftermath of the devastating floods.
There is still time for the government to respond to decrease future damage. This response must entail prudent actions on two fronts. First, apart from draining stagnant water, surveillance campaigns must be carried out to ascertain and destroy dengue breeding grounds. Second, hospitals must be given notifications to stock up on essential assets and treat dengue patients accordingly. The government might also need to set up health centres if the situation spirals out of control.
It must be realised that dengue outbreaks are a common phenomenon in Pakistan and officials must be ready. Funds and resources must be kept aside to deal with such annual crises and provide relief to citizens.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2022.