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December 10, 2019

Death toll rises to 46 this year as dengue claims woman’s life


December 10, 2019

People in Karachi are not having any respite from the dengue fever despite the weather turning relatively cold in the port city as another woman became victim of the vector-borne illness, officials said on Monday.

“A 38-year-old woman, resident of North Karachi, died due to complications of the dengue fever at Aga Khan University Hospital on Monday,” an official of the Sindh Dengue Prevention and Control Programme said.

With the latest death, the number of deaths due to dengue in the current year rose to 46 in Karachi, officials said, adding that so far over 15,000 people had been infected with the virus in the city.

A married woman and a teenage boy had died due to dengue in Karachi on Saturday, while over 700 people had been infected with the viral disease in the city during first nine days of the current month.

Officials said that although the number of cases had reduced in the current month, people were still getting infected they needed to adopt precautionary measures, including use of mosquito repellents, to prevent themselves from vector-borne illnesses.

“Dengue is a permanent feature in Karachi and it remains affecting people irrespective of the weather nowadays. People need to take precautionary measures, as this year the dengue fever is manifesting differently and a large number of people need hospitalisation and intensive care,” said Dr Umer Sultan, a physician trained in treating this fever.

‘Do something’

Earlier last week, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah summoned health department officials and the health minister, and asked them to do something to prevent the dengue deaths in the city, saying mere collection of data from hospitals was not enough to control the situation.

“You should start research-based work so that precautionary measures could be taken in vulnerable areas from where most of the dengue cases are being reported. We must have the map showing the affected areas of last year so that concerned departments, including the local government and health departments, could be directed to take precautionary measures before the start of the dengue season,” he told a meeting of the Prevention and Control Programme for Dengue (PCPD) at the CM House.

The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho, Minister for Local Government Nasir Shah, Principal Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro, Secretary of Local Government Roshan Shaikh, Programme Manager Prevention and Control of Dengue Programme Dr Mahmood Iqbal and other officials concerned.

The chief minister said the people in the dengue control programme were carrying out a routine programme and this would not create any impact. “You have to collect a reliable data, not only from the hospitals but from laboratories to ascertain the actual number of the affected people and we must know which areas are affected this month/year and how many people were affected last year and what is the difference,” he said and added there must be a scientific method to tackle the situation.

Shah directed Dengue programme team to prepare maps of the affected areas of last year and this year and study the measures taken last year and their impact and then identify the weaknesses, if any. “You can assign the research-based work to medical universities for your guidance,” he said.

He also directed the dengue control programme to inform the relevant departments, including the commissioners and deputy commissioners, about the period in which dengue mosquitoes emerged so that institutions could start precautionary measures.

The chief minister was told that the country was facing outbreaks of the dengue infection in all its provinces. A total of 52,476 cases have been reported till December 1, 2019, which include 13,283 cases in Islamabad, 10,051 in Punjab, 15,521 in Sindh, 7,080 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 3,386 in Balochistan and 1,690 AJK.

In Sindh, 15521 cases of dengue have been reported, out of which 14,534 or 93 per cent happened in Karachi. The health minister, Dr Azra Pechuho, told the chief minister that more affected areas of the city were Central, South, East and Korangi districts. Only 1,085 cases were reported from other districts of the province, with major incidence in Hyderabad, Umerkot and Mirpurkhas.

The chief minister was told that during 2019, 43 deaths had been reported -- 37 in private and six in public hospitals. The cause of deaths was mentioned as dengue hemorrhagic, fever, dengue shock syndrome and co-morbidity.

It was pointed out that cases started increasing in September 2019 due to heavy rainfall, high humidity, temperature and disposal of solid waste issues. At this, the chief minister said that there were various countries which received rain continuously, but such cases were not reported there. “I want you to find out the solution and prevention through your expertise, research and hard-work,” he said in his directives to the Dengue Prevention & Control Programme team.