In recent weeks, Peshawar has been victim to a dramatic rise in the latest dengue fever epidemic. The death toll reached eight on Friday after the mosquito-borne disease claimed another life at the Khyber Teaching Hospital. Currently, 398 dengue patients are under treatment in the government hospitals of the province and among them are also 123 fresh cases. Some 1,735 people had so far been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne disease across the province, which is no small figure. Victory over dengue is possible but it will require coordinated action by different sections of society – the community, health practitioners, and different sectors of the government as well as the media. It is heartening that Peshawar High Court has taken swift and strict action on this issue. It has called for several remarkable measures to be undertaken immediately. The order was well thought out and covers multiple bases simultaneously. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government is to set up a special anti-dengue cell at the provincial level and provide the latest anti-dengue testing machines to all major hospitals to control the current outbreak. The bench also summoned the hospital directors of all Peshawar’s medical teaching institutions asking them to produce a report about the diagnostic and patient treatment measures adopted by them.
A cause of dengue in the area was also noted with frustration—allegedly the delay in the completion of a major drains reconstruction project along the Peshawar University Road, one of the city’s main arteries, is one of the major causes of the spreading of dengue virus due to the presence of stagnant water since last year. Not only is this inconvenient to residents, but these delays are being held responsible for spread of viruses like dengue. Thankfully, the court has ordered that the drain project be completed at the earliest, or else the digging should be stopped.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2017.