A new insecticide to kill mosquitos is expected to arrive in the country in a few days and, after necessary lab tests, it will be imported within the next couple of weeks, lawyers of the two Dhaka city corporations told the High Court yesterday.
Dhaka North City Corporation counsel Toufiq Inam and Dhaka South City Corporation counsel Sayed Ahmed Raja gave the assurance during a suo moto hearing on the dengue situation in the country that has taken an alarming turn.
During the proceedings, the HC ordered the government to “expeditiously” import effective insecticides through the two city corporations since the existing insecticides are proving ineffective against Aedes mosquito, the carrier of dengue fever.
The court also directed the ministries of health and local government as well as the director general of the Directorate of Health Services to provide all necessary assistance to the two city corporations to facilitate the import.
The HC asked the authorities to ensure treatment for dengue patients at all government hospitals in Dhaka round the clock under special arrangements.
It also directed the government to take steps so that a doctor, not below the rank of associate professor, monitors the treatment arrangements for 24 hours.
Private hospitals can do the same on humanitarian ground, said the HC bench of Justice Tariq Ul Hakim and Justice Md Shohrowardi.
The court will hold a further hearing on the matter on August 18 when it reopens after Eid vacation.
Earlier in the day, the HC summoned LGRD Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed to appear before it and clarify as to who is responsible for importing mosquito insecticide.
Counsels for both the city corporations say the responsibility lies with the government.
But Helal told the court that the city corporation authorities were tasked with the job and that the government had already allocated funds and provided manpower for importing the insecticide from China.
The court said the existing insecticide was not working and that import of effective insecticide was being delayed due to bureaucratic tangle.
The secretary said the government cannot import the insecticide as it issued licence to a company to do the job.
The court wondered why the government, being the licensing authority, cannot go for the import itself.
Helal later told the court the insecticide would be imported from a Chinese private firm, and the government cannot import directly from private entities.
The two city corporation lawyers said once the sample insecticides arrived, they will run a lab test. And if the test finds nothing harmful, they will import the insecticide in 14 working days.
‘TRYING OUR BEST’
Amid concerns over a further spread of the disease, DSCC Mayor Sayeed Khokon said they were trying their best to control the outbreak by the first week of next month.
“Efforts are on to prevent the mosquito-borne disease and we are trying our best,” the mayor told journalists at the health ministry yesterday.
Citing a DGHS survey, he said, 10 wards of the DSCC were now free from dengue. The wards are 14, 15, 18, 22, 23, 29, 35, 42, 55 and 56.
“If Aedes mosquitos are found there again, we will take necessary steps,” he said.
Contacted, Prof Dr ABM Abdullah said it was difficult to announce a particular area dengue-free.
“You can drive out mosquitos from a certain area, but there is no guarantee that they will not return to that place the next day,” said Prof Abdullah, former dean and head of medicine at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
Khokon’s counterpart in the north Atiqul Islam said destroying the source of Aedes mosquito required a lot of work throughout the year.
He said they have invited Kolkata deputy mayor and acting panel mayor of the health department Atin Ghosh to help Bangladesh tackle the outbreak.
Ghosh is expected to arrive on Sunday, he said.
Over the last few years, Kolkata City Corporation has been working round the year to control Aedes mosquito population.
About importing mosquito repellent, he said they would do so in a “very short time”, but did not give any date.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque, who is under fire for going to Malaysia on a family trip amid the dengue outbreak, yesterday avoided questions from journalists.
He also cancelled his planned press conference to brief journalists on the latest situation.
Facing criticism over his failure to control the outbreak, he cut his trip short and returned home yesterday.
He kept mum when journalists asked him about his trip when he went to inaugurate the 100-bed dengue unit at the Mitford Hospital in the capital.
Later the minister attended a programme at the ministry with the two mayors, experts and high government officials.
There too he avoided all questions about his family trip during a national crisis.
Health Secretary Asadul Islam said the minister would hold a press conference in a day or two and reply to all questions form journalists.