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December 3, 2019

Dengue fever expansion – a challenge for planners to develop strategy for future


December 3, 2019

Islamabad : With well over 20,500 confirmed dengue fever cases and at least 45 deaths reported so far due to the infection in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, dengue fever outbreak has appeared as a greater health threat in 2019 putting a challenge for planners and authorities to develop a fool proof mechanism and achieve a better level of preparedness to deal with the infection’s expected outbreak in the coming year that might be far more aggressive.

Due to intense outbreaks of dengue fever in last four years and greater number of patients, the number of patients with more fatal forms of the infection remained much higher this year and, according to health experts, the same can be expected next time. If there are more confirmed cases in the current year, the chances of haemorrhagic manifestations would be greater in 2020 and onwards.

Well over 37 per cent of confirmed patients of the infection reported in the region contracted dengue haemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, the more fatal forms of the fever this year that resulted in higher number of deaths.

With over 13,200 cases from the federal capital and over 8,300 cases from Rawalpindi, the outbreak remained much intense and obviously the situation demands exercising a high level of preparedness in the dengue high transmission season next year.

The trend of the outbreaks reveal that gradual distribution and expansion of dengue fever was seen from lower areas to upper areas of the country in last 10 years or so as the disease became endemic in Pakistan with periodic outbreaks and has spread to affect both urban and rural areas and is present in most parts of the country. Health experts say that the dengue fever expansion has special relation to climate, temperature, rains, congested population, infected population and human behaviour.

The main reason behind much intense dengue fever outbreak this year with over 51,000 confirmed cases from almost all across Pakistan is that the health departments did not take measures for prevention and control of dengue fever giving due attention to the scientific evidences generated through previous five years data and experiences.

Experts say that no significant efforts were made by the stakeholders to improve disease surveillance and case response specifically targeting areas where the disease had struck last year and for strengthening early warning and timely epidemiological response and capacity building.

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