With the dengue threat at an all-time high, senior officials are happy just to convene meetings and share statistics
With scores of dengue patients being referred to hospitals across the city each day, one would expect the Sindh government to take effective measures to counter the threat. Apparently not — for the government is happy with sticking to its rhetorical statements and simply counting the number of affected. The biggest concern, meanwhile, is the absolute lack of coordination between the various departments, particularly the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and the health department.
Despite the looming threat, the spray campaign has been stopped for the last two weeks. Senior officials simply convene meetings where they share the number of patients and order public and private hospitals to update the Sindh Dengue Control Program (SDCP) regularly.
The KMC officials, during a meeting with the health secretary on Thursday, assured that the fumigation drive would start from Monday. They never kept their word.
Official figures show that 2,424 dengue patients have been registered from various areas of the provincial capital this year. Medical experts, however, claim the real number is at least double. The killer misquotes have not just been limited to a certain locality. They are spreading rapidly, infecting everyone, including children and women.
The provincial health minister, Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar, again convened a meeting on Monday to review the situation and performance of the health officials. The KMC does nothing and even the minister for local government, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, has not responded properly to health officials, it surfaced in the meeting.
Dahar will take up the indifferent attitude of the KMC before the chief minister, based on the complaints of the health secretary, Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo.
Mangnejo told Dahar that he had spoken to top officials of the KMC and Shah about the delays in the spray campaign and rising incidence of dengue cases in the city. An official of the health department told The Express Tribune that the major issue raised by the KMC was the lack of funds for fuel. “This is a completely non-serious attitude at a time when the dengue season is at its peak,” said the official. “No one takes the issue seriously,” he lamented. “Only meetings are being conducted,” said another official. “No practical steps are taken. It is a very serious issue but the provincial government is in deep slumber.”
Admitting the lack of coordination between the various departments, he said that all the relevant departments should work together to eradicate the menace. “A mass awareness programme can help reduce the menace of dengue and funds have been released to make the drive effective,” says the statement issued after the meeting.
Meanwhile, residents are at a loss. “My two daughters have been admitted to a private hospital,” said Dodo Chandio, a resident of Akhtar Colony. “We are afraid of mosquitoes. Everyone is at risk in the city now,” he complained.
“We are doing what we can,” the SDCP’s Dr Masood Ahmed Solangi replied to The Express Tribune’s questions on the current situation. He admitted there was no spray drive in the city which had increased chances of more cases in coming days. “The season will continue till the mid-November,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.