Health Minister Mohammed Nasim and his deputy Zahid Maleque yesterday blamed the Dhaka South and North City Corporations for the chikungunya outbreak in the capital, saying the two governing bodies failed to control the mosquitoes that spread the disease.
The eradication of mosquito is the responsibility of the city corporations while creating public awareness about the disease is the job of the ministry, they said, adding that it was performing that duty.
The ministry is running a campaign on radio and TV to raise the awareness, Nasim said while speaking as chief guest at a function organised at Osmani Memorial Auditorium marking the World Population Day.
He said they had informed the two mayors of the city corporations about the breeding grounds of mosquitoes in the capital.
The minister then criticised a recent news report that said his ministry was solely responsible for the chikungunya outbreak.
The city corporations failed to kill mosquitoes, said State Minister for Health Zahid. They should be more serious about cleaning garbage which litters here and there, helping the spread of the mosquitoes that cause the disease, he added.
Chikungunya, which is transmitted to human bodies by infected Aedes mosquito, started spreading in the capital about two months ago. Symptoms of the viral disease include fever, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, rash and these are often accompanied by a very debilitating joint pain which can last for days.
In the first week of last month, the Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) released a report where it identified 23 areas in the city as most risky. Those areas include Uttara-4, Uttara-9, Middle Badda, Gulshan-1, Lalmatia, Pallabi, Maghbazar, Malibagh, Rampura, Tejgaon, Banani, Nayatola, Kuril, Pirerbagh, Rayer Bazar, Shyamali, Monipuripara, Mohammadpur, Mohakhali, Mirpur-1 and Korail Slum.
Health experts then suggested destroying all potential mosquito breeding sources.
Recently, the city corporations started area-based larviciding and fogging activities. However, the mosquitoes keep on breeding, infecting more and more people.
Against this backdrop, the government on Monday opened help desks for chikungunya patients at all public hospitals and medical colleges across the country.
Talking to The Daily Star last night, Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of IEDCR, said the estimated number of chikungunya patients in the capital was about 2,700.
"Although there were a few cases of chikungunya at the end of April, the disease mainly spreads in May and June and it's continuing.”
The current trend may continue till the end of September as Aedes mosquitoes could breed even after the monsoon, she said, calling upon everyone to ensure that the mosquitoes could not breed inside their homes.
Dr Sabrina also said they were receiving 60 to 100 calls from chikungunya patients every day through a hotline opened recently.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Nasim claimed in parliament last night that the chikungunya situation was under control. He called upon the media not to spread panic among people over the issue.
“The government has taken all sorts of preparations to deal with the issue. The health ministry has been working to control the disease for long,” he said.
“There is no reason to get panicked. This is not deadly. All a patient needs is to take Paracetamol tablets for three days, drink enough water and take proper rest.”
Immediately after the statement was made, Jatiya Party MP Kazi Feroz Rashid criticised the minister, alleging that he was not taking the matter seriously.
Speaking on a point of order, Feroz said the minister prescribed some medicines for the disease. “But honourable Speaker, you would have understood the pain [of the disease] had you been suffering from it.”