With dengue on the rise in Punjab, a child in Lahore gets his Complete Blood Count test. PHOTO: MEHMOOD QURESHI/ EXPRESS
LAHORE: As the number of dengue patients in Punjab rose to a staggering 6,666 people in Punjab, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani assured the Punjab government of the federal government’s cooperation in combating the widely spreading virus.
The reassurance of support on Monday came in the wake of increasing bickering between the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz over the epidemic plaguing the province, with each side blaming the other for inefficiencies.
The PM made the statement at a health conference convened by himself and attended by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa , health secretaries from all four provinces, and various health experts on Monday.
While health had become a provincial subject after the passage of the 18th amendment, the federal government would continue to support provinces on the subject, Gilani said at the conference.
The premier also visited Sheikh Zayed Hospital to review arrangements for free treatment of dengue patients.
Lahore: the most affected
Meanwhile, the dengue virus continued to spread on Monday and two more people died of the virus in Lahore, bringing the death toll to 38.
A report by the health department stated that out of 6,666 patients, a total of 6,126 belong to Lahore. In the last 24 hours, 205 new dengue patients have been reported in Punjab out of which 173 belonged to Lahore. Currently, 515 dengue patients are under treatment in different hospitals while 6,462 patients have so far been cured and discharged, the report stated.
Dengue, beyond Lahore
Over 50 cases of dengue and four deaths have been reported in the Hazara region over the last three weeks. In light of the epidemic, the Haripur Doctors Association met in Abbottabad to review the situation. It expressed its concern over delay in the second phase of fog spray in different parts of Hazara and stressed its immediate need.
In Faisalabad, 73 patients are still under treatment with 34 new cases reported on Monday evening. The spread of disease is occuring despite hectic efforts made by the health department including free treatment and spray campaigns. District Coordination Officer Nasim Sadiq claimed that the campaign to eradicate the virus was in full swing- yet hospitals remained crowded with people complaining of dengue.
Looking at long-term solutions
In addition to the immediate measures being used to address the epidemic, the Punjab government plans to establish a permanent research cell for carrying out research on how to exterminate the dengue virus, Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif said on Monday. The cell will work directly under CM’s supervision.
The CM said that the scope of the programme for controlling the dengue virus was being extended to the whole province. Medicines and equipment were being imported on an emergency basis to eliminate the virus, he added.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SADAQAT ALI IN ABBOTTABAD AND SHAMSUL ISLAM IN FAISALABAD)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2011.