War footing steps needed to kill dengue virus in Pakistan

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Ahmed Ali, 22 years old, a good friend of mine, passed away some five years ago. He was a brilliant student with many achievements in academic career and co-curriculum activities under his belt. He was a down-to-earth person with a passion to help others in need. But his sudden death shocked me, his family members and friends who had no clue how he left the world behind him with so many memories and unfulfilled dreams.

It was hard to believe that his death caused due to a tiny mosquito whose venomous bite retained him in high fever for few days and ultimately released his soul out of body. Though, it was a tragic loss to his family and friends but it cost heavily to the nation as how a talented person departed the world without benefiting its people with his talent.

Unfortunately, his not alone there are many others. Some of them must be more energetic and talented but they witnessed the same fate of sudden death due to deadly dengue virus in Pakistan.

Since 2010, Pakistan has been experiencing an epidemic of dengue fever with major outbreaks in 2011 and 2013. In the last 5 years over 60, 000 people have been affected including children. Despite concerted efforts by the Government of Pakistan to control the incidence of dengue, as many as 9,370 cases were reported in 2015. It amounts to 25 cases every single day, which is shocking to believe.

Most of the cases originated from semi urban areas and major metropolitan cities while unplanned settlements and rural areas equally fell prey to the consequences of the disease.

There were many solutions devised to treat the deadly fever of dengue but its treatment is available to limited hospitals and cities whereas the option of vaccination is not considered for its prevention in the country

The option of prevention is the only and effective but it could only be done if the people and the government are on the same page to reduce its causes in the country along with supports of different stakeholders.

Recently, I got an opportunity to witness a campaign related to dengue awareness in which a female instructor was explaining area women of Qayyumabad about preventive measures for dengue. It was quite interactive but needs to be done in more different areas.

The awareness teams assemble women and area people to explain them preventive measures of dengue which include:

  1. a) Covering water containers and getting rid of stagnant water puddles
  2. b) Clearing trash to keep surroundings clean
  3. c) Ensuring safety and guarding against mosquitoes through anti-mosquito products through coil and spray.

I met Afnan Yaqeeb, Brand Manager of Mortein who told me about ‘Dengue Se Paak Pakistan’ campaign being run by Plan International and provincial/federal governments and Mortein with the mission is to reduce the incidence of dengue from Pakistan.

This is actually community level activations program to be organized in target high-risk dengue areas in various districts in Pakistan. Residents will be educated on how to stay protected against dengue and lead healthier lives through a number of pre-planned activities and a combination of innovative approaches to generate maximum impact and learning, he told me.

I hope this campaign will meet its target to create awareness about the deadly dengue fever. This will hopefully save lives of scores of people but will definitely change the attitude of general public towards cleanliness.

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