As superspreader related cases witnessed a downward trend in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) over the past week, the provincial government and health department had little chance to celebrate given the uptick in dengue cases.
The government has got itself out of the frying pan and into the oven it seems, as according to the Malaria Control Program (MCP) K-P, 994 cases of the mosquito related viral infection have been reported, so far, in the province. Nowshera, which is some 40 kilometers away from the provincial capital Peshawar, has reported the highest number of cases in K-P followed by the capital itself in close second.
In an effort to curb the uptick in cases, the Malaria Control Program Coordinator Dr Rehman Afridi, while talking with Express Tribune said immediate steps were being taken with the help of the district administration to fumigate affected areas.
The fumigation efforts have given hospitals in the province, which are still recovering from the overburden that was caused by massive admittals of virus infected patients, some breathing space as they focus their attention towards patients with dengue. The Khyber Teaching Hospital in Peshawar, admitted 10 patients with the viral infection in a day and are now treating a total of 22 patients, who have portrayed varying levels of severity of the disease. Similarly, the Hayatabad Medical Complex had received a total of 16 patients in a single day.
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Afridi said that it was evident that the province’s efforts to combat dengue were working as their reported cases were much lower than those of other provinces. “Our strategy involves a door-to-door information campaign by the health department team and a larva surveillance team,” Afrid informed. The larva surveillance team identifies an immature form of mosquitoes that eventually carry dengue and gets rid of them before they can cause the infection, as per Afridi. “We have also informed the public, in highly affected areas, of the precautionary measures to use to help lower the threat of this viral disease,” he added, indicating that a collective effort was required to successfully combat it.
“Over the years we have fared better in controlling dengue, for instance in 2017 we reported 25,000 cases but in 2019 that number was down to 19,000 cases,” stated Afridi suggesting that the current upsurge was not a major threat as of now.
However, Afridi’s optimism might be misplaced, as according to the MCP’s own report districts like Buner with 190 reported cases and Khyber with 128 reported cases are fast becoming dengue hotbeds.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2021.