Oversight panel to enforce dengue action plan in KP

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PESHAWAR: A high-powered committee has been formed to ensure implementation of the ‘dengue action plan’ to prevent the occurrence of the mosquito-borne disease, which is endemic in the province, especially in Peshawar, the provincial capital.

The health department has notified an oversight committee with Chief Secretary Dr. Kazim Niaz as its head and all administrative secretaries as members to supervise the enforcement of dengue action plan (DAP) 2020.

The action plan includes making coordinated efforts for vector control by ensuring the timely availability of the resources. The dengue fever subsided in December when no case was reported in the ongoing outbreak started in mid-June, infecting 7000 people.

The committee formed on the directives of the Supreme Court is meant to make sure that all the concerned departments take effective steps to prevent dengue in 2010. The transmission is no more but the government has to begin taking measures from January and February to eliminate the production of mosquitoes on the recommendation of a technical committee with full administrative support at divisional and district levels as an anti-dengue plan, which is being finalized, recommends a multi-sectoral approach.

At the onset of the present outbreak, the health department had been requesting support to prevent the disease through a coordinated approach with the other department responsible for killing insects and the prevention of stagnant water pools and supply of electricity and water in a timely manner backed by administrative machinery. The health department is meant to deal with the patients only.

Experts associated with DAP say that the chief secretary being a medical doctor is in the know of matters relating to dengue spread and its prevention.

They say that he is taking keen interest and all recommendations by the World Health Organisation have been included in the strategy. They add that the committee will ensure periodic meetings and will send reports to the chief minister.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa experienced the worst dengue epidemic in 2017 when 50,000 suspected patients checked into hospitals where 10,000 were tested positive for the disease. The province also recorded 70 deaths mostly in Peshawar. In 2019, there was no mortality from dengue fever but WHO had warned a more severe outbreak in 2020 if preventive measures weren’t taken.

“The DAP to be presented for approval to the government next week. It will come into force immediately as the province is required to take immediate measures for prevention of the disease,” officials said.

The technical committee will give advice on the implementation of DAC and the oversight body will be responsible for supervising and monitoring the way it is being implemented.

Officials said that the strategy also included guidelines for all the stakeholders and respective departments as well as district administration to ensure a coordinated work and put brakes on the disease next year.

Dengue fever has infected more than 50,000 people countrywide with most cases coming from Sindh and twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It has killed about 80 people in 2019 and WHO has been urging Pakistan to adopt a comprehensive program to stop the sickness on a permanent basis.

The WHO will also be imparting training to the health staff and is likely to grant honorarium to the health workers to motivate them next year. However, the proposed strategy revolves around a multi-pronged approach with defined roles for all the departments concerned to play their part and ensure that the ailment doesn’t occur in 2020.

“The main part of the strategy will be to eliminate mosquitoes through awareness for which the lead role will be given to the district administration. Dengue has no cure and the ailment is self-limiting but the patients are treated symptomatically,” said officials.

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