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November 14, 2019

No more space in Karachi hospitals for dengue patients


November 14, 2019

Over 55,000 to 60,000 people have so far been infected with dengue fever in Karachi and the number is constantly on the rise with hundreds of patients testing positive for the mosquito-borne illness on a daily basis, senior health officials and dengue experts told The News on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, the health department is issuing data of only a few patients, who are admitted to some major hospitals in the city,” said Dr Tahir Shamsi, an eminent bone marrow transplant surgeon and expert of blood-borne diseases.

The health department has officially confirmed 11,500 positive cases of dengue in Karachi during the current season with 34 deaths but independent health experts say deaths could be as high as 100 or even more because only a few hospitals in the city provide their data to the health department while the authorities only include those dengue patients in the data who managed to get admission to any health facility.

A survey of various public and hospitals in the city revealed that health facilities were packed to capacity with dengue patients and now even the corridors were being used to treat patients. Emergency departments of many hospitals were overcrowded, due to which patients were referred to other hospitals.

“We are daily having 70-75 dengue positive patients but we can only admit 10 to 15 per cent of them due to lack of beds. Same is the situation of other Karachi’s hospitals and now we are turning away most of the patients except those who are in a critical condition,” Dr Shamsi said, adding that dengue outbreak was likely to continue till the weather turned really cold in the city.

“Since 2006, we are observing that most of the dengue cases report during the months of October and November. This year, I’m not seeing any respite from it till the first or second week of December.”

Several people posted their ordeals on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, urging the authorities to intervene as there was no space available in the public and private hospitals for dengue patients in the city. They called for immediate measures to contain the outbreak as early as possible.

“Last night, I took my young son to two major private hospitals on Stadium Road after his platelets dropped to 27,000 and red blood cells were detected in his urine. To my surprise, both the hospitals refused to admit him, saying they had no bed vacant while dozens of dengue patients were in the waiting area for a bed so that they could be taken in,” said Syed Ahmed, a banker and resident of Gulistan-e-Jauhar whose 27-year old son has contracted dengue.

Many people said they had to take their patients back to home in serious condition and doctors advised them to keep them hydrated by giving them intravenous solutions as there was no space to admit patients at hospitals.

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