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September 23, 2019

Centre, provinces team up against dengue as 10,000 tested positive

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September 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments would be teaming up to contain a potential dengue epidemic as at least 10,000 peopled tested positive for the disease and the numbers expected to rise in the coming days.

Addressing a press conference here in the federal capital, Prime Minister Imran Khan's special assistant on national health services, regulations, and coordination, Dr Zafar Mirza, said the federal government was in coordination with provinces to curb the dengue outbreak and concerted efforts were being made to check it.

“A Dengue Control Operational Centre has been set up in Islamabad, which would daily review the dengue-related situation across the country review steps to control it,” Dr Mirza said.

The special assistant added that two hotlines with contact numbers — 051-9212601 and 051-9216890 — would work round the clock and experts would respond to the dengue-related queries to the general public.

Speaking of the number of reported cases, Dr Mirza said there were some 10,013 dengue patients currently in Pakistan, of which 2,363 were in Punjab, 2,258 in Sindh, 1,814 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and 1,772 in Balochistan. “At present, our concentration is to keep an eye on the outbreak rather than doing politics,” he said. “During the last 48 hours, the number of patients having increased, with the number expected to rise in the coming 7-10 days.” It is the government's responsibility to suggest preventive measures to the people, the special assistant added, noting that special hotlines were set up for the same. "70 percent dengue patients in Punjab were reported from the Potohar region," Dr Mirza noted. He further said a special study or research would be conducted in the coming days to find out why dengue spread out in this region. “An Emergency Centre had been established at the National Institute of Health (NIH) ten days before and the entire statistics are available on the NIH website on a daily basis,” he assured.

Keeping in view the possible increase in the number of dengue patients, Dr Mirza said the owners of Islamabad's private hospitals — who the government contacted — ensured to provide a total of 1,000 beds in their hospitals in case of a capacity issue in the state hospitals. The treatment at these private hospitals would be free of cost, he said, thanking the management of private hospitals over this gesture.

Moreover, he said 16 basic health units in the federal capital were functional and trained doctors were providing treatment to dengue and other patients. He urged people to visit these units to have themselves tested so that medical staff could guide them to visit the nearest hospital in case they tested positive.

Dr Mirza further said the health department was fumigating most of the affected areas, while the federal government was in coordination with the provincial ones to curb dengue outbreak and provide health facilities to dengue patients.

“With a possible increase in the number of patients in the coming days, the situation would be in complete control till the end of this month,” he said. Responding to a question about the lack of rabies vaccine in Pakistan, Dr Mirza said its production at the National Institute of Health Islamabad (NIH) would be doubled in coming years.

The special assistant lamented the non-production of around 900,000 doses in Pakistan during previous tenures and assured that the incumbent government would take steps in this regard. In response to another question about the increase in medicine prices, Dr Mirza said there was a price-fixing policy of medicines.

In May, prices of some medicines went up-to 200-300 per cent but their prices were brought down to 75 per cent. He said the government was in contact with the manufactures and prices of medicines would further decrease.

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