A major public health crisis | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 01, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:23 AM, August 01, 2019

Editorial

A major public health crisis

Treat dengue outbreak as an epidemic

The dengue epidemic in the country has gripped everyone by fear. According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), a record 1,845 patients outside Dhaka were diagnosed with the viral disease on July 30. This year saw a record number of dengue patients, and dengue has already spread to 61 out of the 64 districts. Government data has confirmed at least 15,369 dengue cases since the beginning of this year; of these, 9,683 patients were diagnosed in the month of July alone. The death toll has reached 41, although as per a report in this daily yesterday, the official count stands at 8.

One of the key reasons why the situation got to this point is our total disregard for cleanliness. A survey conducted by the communicable diseases wing of the DGHS in Dhaka’s two city corporations in March revealed that water in places such as plastic drums, buckets, and open tanks in under-construction buildings served as breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito. While factors such as intermittent rain are beyond our control, keeping the city clean is not. One wonders why pretexts are put forward one after the other whenever a crisis occurs, even though it is taxpayers’ money that is being allocated to both the DNCC and DSCC. So what is the excuse behind garbage strewn on roadsides and general filth in public places? Where are the services that people are paying for?

Now, we have in our hands a major public health crisis which may get worse as Eid approaches. Hundreds of thousands of travellers will be going back home, possibly spreading the viral disease even further. To make things worse, the city corporations still haven’t been able to acquire effective insecticides, which only points to a lack of proactiveness and foresight, despite the fact that dengue is an age-old issue.

Dengue outbreak is now a nationwide problem. All relevant government bodies, including the DGHS, must be mobilised to tackle this epidemic. Breeding grounds of mosquitoes must be destroyed, hospitals equipped, effective insecticides imported, and awareness has to be spread about the precautionary measures people must take if diagnosed with dengue. 

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