Dengue prevention activities slow down in Sindh as cases surge sharply

October 26, 2014 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: Dengue prevention & control activities have slowed down in Sindh province due to the lack of coordination between hospitals and management of dengue control program, PPI learnt on Monday.

Well-informed sources confirmed that all dengue prevention & control activities have been slowed down in the province especially in Karachi city due to the poor coordination between public healthcares and dengue program administration. Major public and private hospitals of Karachi have not been sharing the data of dengue cases since long. The Dengue Prevention & Control Program has been non-factional since its up-gradation. Last year an influential minister had showed displeasure over the ever-increasing dengue cases and deaths and warned that if any dengue case was reported in future he would take action against the responsible officers. Since then though the dengue continued to torment Karachiites, but the sharing of dengue data with media and public was stopped.

The sources said peak season dengue viral fever has already begun in Sindh province from August and is expected to continue till December 2014 but Dengue Prevention and Control Program is still non-functional due to lack coordination between government-run hospitals and dengue program management, which has put hundreds of lives at stake in Karachi city and other parts of province.

An example of this poor coordination between institutions is that two persons died from dengue fever two days ago; one in Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and other in a private hospital, but the administration of these hospitals did not bother to share these cases with the Dengue Prevention & Control Program officials, as their provincial program manager showed his ignorance about deaths when news of these dengue deaths were aired on various TV channels.

Sources said Sindh health department up-graded Sindh Dengue Surveillance Cell into Dengue Prevention and Control Program about seven months back and also allocated millions of rupees for the purpose of surveillance and prevention in the year 2014 but the program still goes non-functional despite the passage of several months.

On other hand, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) carried out anti-dengue fumigation campaign in phases but many areas are still deprived of this fumigation due to shortage of funds. The sources said that dozens of dengue cases are being reported in different hospitals of Karachi on daily basis, but this data is being hidden from the public so as not to create embracement for the provincial government that has already been criticized bitterly in media on its bad governance.

Sources said the actual number of dengue deaths and dengue cases could be much higher as there was no mechanism in place to record the actual data, while the coordination between the government departments, including the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, health services directorate and provincial dengue control programme was not visible.

Provincial Program Manager, Dengue Prevention & Control Program, Mohammad Shakeel Aamir Mullick when contacted told PPI that the mosquito-borne dengue virus have already claimed eleven lives in 2014 and 775 cases have been reported from different hospitals of Sindh.

He said some hospitals are sharing the data with program administration on regular basis but few public and private hospitals are not sharing information with them. He said notices are being sent to hospitals managements over the negligence in sharing data.

The government of Punjab has effectively controlled dengue in Lahore and other areas by establishing a dengue dashboard. Lahore and its surrounding had been hit in the recent past by the biggest widespread of vector bone disease (Dengue). However, the Government of Punjab decided to gear up well in advance against the threat of Dengue. For this purpose all departments as operational under Government of Punjab joined hands to combat Dengue.

While the departments were mobilizing their resources, monitoring mechanism was devised to log all field activities related to prevention/eradication of the disease.

The system as devised back then is still operational and entomologists/field officers report activities on regular basis.  Activities are as diverse as awareness to community, removal of debris, identification of ponding, larviciding and IRS at premises of confirmed patients.

The project focuses on reporting on the go, each member in the field is provided with an android smartphone who reports there and then using edge services. The user takes a geo-tagged photograph while performing the designated task. Field officers are also mandated to identify breeding hotspots and remove them accordingly, two separate photographs are submitted highlighting before and after activities clearly. Data stream as submitted via smart phones gets plotted onto Google maps.

The Project Highlights include the data reporting on the go; real time submission to the centralized server; consolidated dashboard to view departmental activities; spatial-temporal analysis to identify intersecting areas with breeding hotspots and patients reported, and built in early disease detection/warning system with geographical illustrations.

The system has been operational Punjab wide and spanned over 36 districts and more than 25 departments.

The Sindh government should send its senior officers to Punjab to get the training of this dengue dashboard and replicate this successful experiment in Sindh province, especially Karachi to control widespread dengue viral fever.

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