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October 18, 2015

Power outages behind increase in number of dengue victims

Lahore

October 18, 2015

Rawalpindi
Almost all the concerned government authorities including Chief Minister Punjab have been holding meetings on meetings to control the intense outbreak of dengue fever in the region though none of them has ever taken step to reduce electricity loadshedding at night as a control measure that is certainly playing a significant role in spreading the infection further.
It is obvious that the power shutdowns particularly in the evening, night and at dawn cause significant increase in rate of mosquito-bite among population giving mosquitoes a greater chance to fly freely and bite humans in the absence of fans.
Also power outages in the evening and night compel majority of population to set aside principles of personal protection measures to prevent dengue fever as in the absence of fans and ventilation, most of the residents in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have to spend time in open areas available to them including rooftops and courtyards.
It is important that well over 1950 patients have already been confirmed positive for dengue fever at the three allied hospitals in town while Islamabad hospitals have tested 258 patients positive for the infection till Saturday. The infection has claimed four live at the allied hospitals so far.
The vector in both dengue fever and malaria is mosquito and according to health experts, the risk of catching these infections is greater in the evening and night particularly in the absence of fans because mosquitoes are active from dusk to dawn. The frequent power shutdowns in the evening, night and at dawn may cause spread of malaria and dengue fever at greater scale.
It is also worth mention that chemical deterrent that is released through an electronically heated impregnated pad or gel cannot be used to avoid mosquito bite in the absence of electricity and it also increases the risk of spread of the infections including dengue fever.
It is ironical that the concerned government

authorities have displayed banners in almost every nook and corner of the city asking people to take preventive measures but they are not providing facilities including electricity to get these implemented, said a health official pleading anonymity while talking to ‘The News’ on Saturday.
He said how it is possible for one to use electronic mosquito repellants in the absence of electricity. It is known to almost every citizen that the rate of mosquito bite increases in the dark and the power shutdowns provide greater opportunities to mosquitoes to feed on humans in the absence of lights and fans, he said.
It is important that there is already much criticism in the general public that the local governments are slow to take preventive action for control on dengue fever. A number of citizens are of the view the affluent are ordering fumigation in their homes and the schools where their children study, but the poor in the slums have been left at the mercy of the mosquito.
The power shutdowns at night compel people to keep windows of their rooms open for fresh air and it allows mosquitoes to enter the room and bite them. Minors are at higher risk of catching the infections caused by mosquito-bite.
Of course, the current of air produced through fans restrict flight of mosquitoes and the rate of mosquito bite reduces in the presence of light and fan, said Assistant District Health Officer at Islamabad Capital Territory Health Department Dr. Najeeb Durrani when contacted by ‘The News’ on Saturday.
He added the fall in temperature convinces mosquitoes to stay in warmer places and at night, mosquitoes stay inside Metro Bus Stops and buses parked at night in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. There is a need to fumigate Metro Bus stations and buses on regular basis to avoid mosquitoes travelling from endemic areas of the twin cities to non-endemic areas, he suggested.
He, like many other health experts, opines that the concerned authorities should review decision of power shutdowns from dusk till dawn for the sake of public health, at least till the beginning of December.