A sharp hike in the number of dengue fever cases has the citizens worried
y son caught dengue fever twice,” says Muhammad Shakoor, a resident of Lalazar. “The first time, I took him to the dengue ward at Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Hospital,” he says, adding that the arrangements there were pathetic. “The doctors were uncaring and the staff would simply not listen to attendants,” complains Shakoor.
“The second attack was worse. My son’s white blood count plummeted,” he says. “I took him to Fauji Foundation Hospital this time. He survived,” he adds.
Lalazar is one of the areas that have become a hotspot for dengue fever in the city this monsoon. According to Adeel, an entomologist allied with the District Health Authority (DHA) Rawalpindi, the other three hotspots are Kotha Kalan, Gulistan Colony and Chaklala neighbourhoods.
“Our teams are monitoring these neighbourhoods as well as other parts of the city. We are also running awareness campaigns,” says Adeel. “We’ve commissioned ads in print and on television to caution the citizens against the dengue virus and counter its spread by keeping their homes mosquito-free,” he adds.
The dengue season starts with monsoons and lasts well into October in Rawalpindi. It had just begun this year when a sharp hike in the number of dengue patients was observed.
According to media reports, between 300 and 400 people were being tested for dengue virus at government-run healthcare facilities daily. A majority of the tests came negative and the patients were being treated for common fever.
“Dengue is a painful disease that renders one immobile within days,” says Zia-ul Qamar who was recently discharged from the dengue ward at the District Headquarters Hospital. “I was well taken care of at the District Headquarters Hospital and made a full recovery,” says Qamar.
According to Qamar, the facility was well-equipped. “The hospital’s dengue ward had mosquito nets and enough beds. I received good care,” he tells TNS.
Outside the Holy Family Hospital in Satellite Town, however, the air is tense. Inside, there is frenzy. A dengue ward had been set up here and entry is restricted.
Dengue season starts with monsoons and continues well into October in Rawalpindi. It had just begun this year when a sharp hike in the number of dengue fever patients was observed.
Media persons and patients mill about in the lobby. “No photography,” the staff warns a photographer. The staff do not share much information, saying only that the situation is ‘under control.’
Dr Shahram Haider, whose mother has tested negative for the viral fever, says that they had a scare and came to the hospital. “It was just a scare, but my mother had a fever. The family panicked and there was pressure to get another opinion since there’s a dengue outbreak in the city,” he says. “That’s why we decided to get my mother tested,” he adds.
The doctor says a patient needs supportive treatment and care. One also needs to strike a balance between rest and physical activity. “A patient needs to exercise without exhausting themselves,” says Dr Haider, “that is why willpower is vital if one is to defeat disease,” he notes.
“Pain management is also very important. Many electronic devices and modern techniques can be used for this purpose. Patients need to be aware of these techniques,” he says.
Nasir Mir, a spokesperson for Rawalpindi Waste Management Company (RWMC), says that efforts are being made to counter dengue fever spread. “Our teams go from door to door to raise awareness. The women workers in these teams speak to the women and the men talk to men of the household,” says Mir.
“This way we make sure that everyone knows how to eliminate mosquito larvae in their water tanks and other places,” he says. “We have noticed that girls are more sensitive to hygiene and cleanliness of the localities they live in than most boys,” says Mir.
“Diseases are breaking out in Pindi yet our babus are sitting behind their mahogany tables. They are content with their lives, flashing smiles and getting photographed while the people suffer,” says Raja Qambar, a resident of Kallar Siyedan. “That’s what’s happening in Pindi,” he concludes gloomily.
The writer teaches development support communication at International Islamic University Islamabad.