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September 23, 2019

Private hospitals commit free treatment: 1,000 beds for dengue fever patients

Islamabad

September 23, 2019

Islamabad :Contributing their share to controlling the Dengue Fever outbreak that has gripped Pakistan, the capital’s private hospitals have committed provision of free treatment and 1,000 beds in case of capacity issues in public sector hospitals.

As many as 10,013 people in Pakistan are currently suffering from dengue fever; of these, 2,363 cases have been identified in Punjab, 2,258 in Sindh, 1,814 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 1,772 in Balochistan. Since a further increase in the number of patients is anticipated in the coming week or two before an eventual decline by end-September, the government contacted private hospitals for support in case of an emergency situation, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza announced at a press conference here on Sunday. Thanking hospital managements for acceding to the government’s request, he added that the CEO of Sehat Sahulat Programme has been assigned to liaise with private hospitals, should the need arise.

Dr. Zafar said, the federal government is coordinating with the provinces to curb the outbreak. Outlining some of the key outbreak response measures taken in this context, he said, “Two hotlines (051-9212601 and 9216890) have been set up where expert doctors will be available round the clock to respond to Dengue Fever-related queries. An Emergency Operation Centre was established at the National Institute of Health (NIH) 10 days ago for daily compilation of data and analysis of trends.

Dr. Zafar pointed out that 70 per cent of the Dengue Fever patients in Punjab are concentrated in the Potohar region, and that research will be conducted to ascertain the causes. He said the health departments are fumigating worst-affected areas as the federal government coordinates with the provinces to curb the outbreak.

Aside from soliciting support from private hospitals, 16 of Islamabad’s Basic Health Units that had been non-functional for the last 10 years have been operationalised and trained doctors are now available at these BHUs to serve patients.

“Patients should access these primary health facilities as a first option for consultation and diagnostic tests, following which the medical staff will refer them to the nearest hospital, if required,” Dr. Zafar said.

Responding to queries, Dr. Zafar said, Pakistan has been facing an acute shortage of Rabies vaccine for years now. “We should have been locally producing 9 lakh doses of the vaccine,” he stated, assuring that the production capacity of NIH for the said vaccine will be more than doubled in the next two years.

“The vaccine is allocated to provinces as per their request and existing production capacity. Stocks have already been provided to both Sindh and Punjab; however, due to excessive demand, we have to rely on imported vaccines, which not only have to be registered but should also fulfill considerations such as affordability and efficacy,” Dr. Zafar stated, while emphasizing the need to increase local production. In response to another query, Dr. Zafar said, prices of medicines are determined in consonance with a laid-down policy; yet, they tend to increase, rendering many life-saving medicines out of the reach of the common people. He said, the Ministry is in touch with manufacturers and is trying its level best to keep prices of medicines within an affordable range.

Earlier on, while chairing a meeting of senior health officials on the Dengue Fever situation, Dr. Zafar assigned Director General Health to conduct clinical audit and physical inspection of Dengue Wards in all four major hospitals of Islamabad namely, PIMS, Polyclinic, FGH and NIRM. A daily report will be submitted to the SAPM, Secretary Health, and Dengue Control Room.

The Chief Field Epidemiology Division of NIH has been assigned to update the National Action Plan on Dengue Outbreak with inputs from provinces so as to ensure adequate planning, training, curative, preventive, and promotive outbreak response for next year. A three-member team has been constituted to oversee preventive measures. Dr. Zafar also visited Polyclinic Hospital to inquire after patients of dengue fever.

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