KP, Punjab Govts to jointly fight dengue in Peshawar


PESHAWAR, Aug 21 (TNS): Amid the spread of dengue virus from Peshawar to Mardan, the provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab finally agreed to work together in overcoming the outbreak of deadly dengue virus in the province.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday dispatched the second well-equipped mobile health unit to Peshawar while the third one would arrive today (Monday) to help the KP government in handling the outbreak of dengue virus.

The first mobile health unit arrived in Peshawar on Saturday night and started providing services, including screening and investigations at the same time in Peshawar’s suburban Tehkal locality, where the virus first infected the residents in last week of July.

After Peshawar, Mardan has become the second major city of the province where the first dengue case was reported on Sunday. A 12-year-old boy, Habibullah, was diagnosed with dengue at the Mardan Medical Complex (MMC). He belongs to Garhi Kapoora located in the suburbs of Mardan.

The boy is said to be NS1 positive, IgG and IgM positive and is admitted to Medical C ward of the hospital. The first dengue case in Mardan alarmed the KP government and district administration Mardan and Health Secretary Abid Majeed formed control room and nominated a senior physician and head of medicine department MMC Prof Ameer Khan as its focal person to make strategy for prevention of the disease.

Senior officials told that a committee had been formed that would hold its first meeting Monday at the office of deputy commissioner Mardan Imran Sheikh to suggest measures for prevention of the disease and create awareness among the masses about dengue.

It was found that the main source of dengue virus in Mardan was the posh locality of Sheikh Maltoon Town where the government had provided Rs200 million for replacement of sewerage line but the scheme was abandoned after its excavation that blocked the sewerage of the whole town.

“The best source of dengue is presently stagnant water in several parts of Sheikh Maltoon. It might cause an epidemic as the virus can better speared in blocks like a town if the government didn’t take notice of this blocked sewerage line,” an official of the district administration said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Khyber Pakhtunkhwa president Amir Muqam said the KP government had initially refused providing access to the health experts from Punjab in the public sector hospitals where the dengue patients were not taken care of in a better way. However, he said the KP Health Department later approached Punjab Minister for Primary and Secondary Health Khawaja Imran Nazeer and accepted their offer.

Amir Muqam said one mobile health unit from Punjab examined 830 patients from Saturday night onward and 163 of them were diagnosed dengue positive. He said patients diagnosed with positive needed hospitalization but since the KP government declined to accept an offer of the Punjab government, therefore, he said they rented two spacious wedding halls in the city and planned to admit patients there.

“Actually we don’t want any politics on human lives but since people were in dire need of immediate medical care, therefore, the Punjab government sent these doctors and drugs as a goodwill gesture. It should not be taken KP versus Punjab as all are Pakistanis and will need to help each other in times of emergency,” said the PML-N leader. He said neither chief minister nor health minister KP were able to visit any hospital and see the miserable condition of dengue patients.

“Would you believe, KP health minister visited KTH after I went there on Saturday and raised the issue of the poor healthcare there,” said the PML-N leader. He said besides other health experts, vice-chancellor of King Edward Medical University Lahore and some other senior doctors also came to Peshawar and gave useful tips and suggestions to the doctors for better handling the epidemic.

Amir Muqam said one mobile health unit would work in Tehkal, the second one would be operating in Sufaid Dheri and the third one would be providing services in Pishtakhara village in the provincial capital.

KP Director General Health and Services Dr Shabina Raza told that they had accepted a generous offer of the Punjab government and agreed to work together to better serve the affected people. She said the teams came from Punjab will work under the supervision of KP Health Department to better cope with the situation.

Dr Shabina Raza said they also welcomed an offer of the Punjab health minister of sending a team of their entomologists to help identify the sources of dengue virus and then take measures for its eradication. Similarly, number of people suspected to have dengue virus in the metropolis has reached over 900, with more cases recently reported from Khyber Teaching Hospital, sources said.

According to official figures, 27 dengue patients were admitted in KTH, eight in LRH and four in HMC on Sunday. Since July, KTH received 3,980 patients with symptoms similar to dengue fever and 614 of them were diagnosed with dengue virus. Five people are stated to have died of the disease. Also, the KP government has stopped all the public sector hospitals from sharing any information related to dengue with the media.