Dengue can be deadlier this year
At the beginning of May, experts had predicted that Bangladesh might see an even worse dengue outbreak this year than before. Unfortunately, all numbers point to this becoming a reality. While the number of dengue cases in June last year was 737, this June saw a staggering 5,956 cases, easily dwarfing the corresponding figure from 2019 – the worst year yet in terms of dengue infection in the country. In all likelihood, warnings about a surge in the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes post-Eid may come true. Adding fuel to the fire, a yet-to-be-released survey conducted by DGHS in the two city corporations of Dhaka has detected Aedes larvae in 20 percent of houses under DNCC and 15 percent of houses under DSCC.
For a country dealing with dengue outbreaks for over two decades, Bangladesh still seems to be taking a novice's approach to the problem. This has reflected in the dengue situation getting worse with each passing year. In 2022, the highest number of people died of dengue – 281. The question is, why are the authorities still faltering in their efforts? One area of failure is their delayed drive to detect Aedes larvae. The survey of houses to find Aedes larvae should have been conducted at the beginning of the year (before the first monsoon rain). Why did the health directorate wait until June to carry it out, despite news of rising infections in the early months? What measures are being taken to prevent water stagnation in areas with a drainage problem? Once identified, are the breeding grounds of Aedes larvae being destroyed?
The authorities must be able to address these and other concerns regarding our dengue preparedness. The DGHS survey should provide useful information in identifying dengue hotspots and taking targeted measures in Dhaka, but other major cities should also be included. The coming three-four months are going to be crucial, so the authorities must dedicate all efforts to raising awareness, undertaking preventive drives, and keeping dengue numbers in check. The DGHS and all city corporations must not fail us this time.