It’s ludicrous that those in charge of making sure this country remains liveable need to be nudged into action for the most routine affairs, such as ensuring cleanliness and protecting residents from public health hazards. According to a report by The Daily Star, dengue fever is making a major comeback with the number of infected people having more than doubled since last month, compared with the same period last year. About 155 people were infected with dengue last month and 586 more till the 23rd of this month.
This is news in part because after last year’s catastrophic dengue prevention failure—when a record 10,148 people were infected and 26 of them died—one would have expected the city corporations and relevant health departments to learn their lesson and be extra careful this year. Instead, as reports indicate, preparations are still either in their ideation phase or too insufficient to have an impact, despite the increasing human pileup at hospitals.
What alarms us is the disclosure, by an official of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), that dengue fever in Bangladesh is now an endemic disease, meaning it will remain in the country throughout the year. This calls for extreme caution, judicious policymaking and coordinated implementation of anti-dengue projects on the part of the different agencies involved. It’s important to destroy the sources of Aedes mosquito on a priority basis. The DGHS is reportedly planning to introduce a laboratory-bred mosquito, called Ulbakia, to thwart the spread of dengue virus. But the project has been in development since last year and no significant progress has been made yet. There are also the challenges of climate-change effects, intermittent rain, and varying patterns of weather that can contribute to a dengue outbreak, as well as the lack of cleanliness, which has become a characteristic feature of Dhaka. The administration must find a solution for all these problems and find it fast, before more people get infected.