Why this lukewarm response to the rising threat of dengue?
We're quite alarmed by the inadequate response to the ever-evolving threat of dengue infections. The dengue situation seems to be getting worse, with September seeing the deaths of 34 patients and 9,911 hospitalisations. And, in the first three days of October, six people reportedly died. Of course, as reports have pointed out, these numbers do not reflect the whole dengue situation as they only account for hospitalised cases. More worryingly, experts have pointed out how the weather this month would be favourable to the breeding of Aedes larvae, meaning things could get even worse before they get better.
By now, dengue cases have been reportedly detected in at least 50 districts, with Dhaka and Cox's Bazar being the worst affected. Everything seems to be happening as forewarned by experts. In May, we also voiced our concerns over an impending dengue outbreak. We still remember the dismal dengue situation last year. So why does it seem like the government has no inkling of what's happening or no idea of how to contain the situation? Why is it still unable to effectively monitor and control the spread of dengue?
By now, dengue cases have been reportedly detected in at least 50 districts, with Dhaka and Cox's Bazar being the worst affected. Everything seems to be happening as forewarned by experts.
This is all the more troubling given that the DGHS conducts three mosquito surveys annually – pre-monsoon, monsoon-time, and post-monsoon. In its pre-monsoon survey this year, it had discovered Aedes mosquito larvae at 69 under-construction structures in South Dhaka alone. The survey also revealed that the density of the larvae per area was higher than it was in the last two years. So why, then, are the authorities failing to manage these sites adequately? The same question can be asked of all other risky sites in other areas. Reportedly, the authorities are neither properly identifying risky areas, nor collecting the addresses of dengue patients to monitor their homes and surroundings. This is totally unacceptable. We have already seen the consequences of such lukewarm response to a public health threat.
The government still seems to be "taking it slow" – too slow, one can add, for our own good. It has been also resistant to experts who offered their suggestions. In 2017 and 2019, two experts from the WHO reportedly sought to direct the health ministry's actions in this regard, and even formulated a research-based mid-term plan on how dengue and Chikungunya could be prevented and controlled. Nothing happened after that.
We urge the authorities, including city corporations and local government bodies, to take the deteriorating dengue situation with due seriousness. Risky areas and known dengue hotspots must be thoroughly and regularly cleaned. Preventive methods must be communicated to all households. It is also crucial that healthcare facilities across the country are given enough support and resources to handle the surge of incoming dengue patients. The public should not have to face another dangerous disease because of the indifference of authorities.