Dengue continues to haunt Karachi as death toll reaches five


Karachi: Hapless citizens have to reap the bitter fruits of poor governance, murder of merit through political appointments, commission and bribery culture and sheer mismanagement in almost every sector but the crucial healthcare sector has been particularly more neglected, as this year so far Karachi has to mourn three deaths due to dengue viral fever alone.

The fifth victim was 36-year-old Bilal Ahmed, son of Saeed Ahmed, a resident of Surjani Town of Karachi who died in Civil Hospital Karachi during treatment. At least 2258 dengue fever cases have been reported from Sindh province since 1st January 2015 to date, of them 2203 detected from Karachi alone.

Two decades back dengue was an unknown disease in Karachi. Its cases surfaced sharply in this city when it faced a sudden ecological change in 2003 when hundreds of thousands of fully-grown eucalyptus trees were hacked and replaced by Conocarpus trees. Though there is no scientific research so far in Pakistan on the link of African plant Conocarpus and the dengue viral fever, but some botanists and environmental activists had showed serious concern that this sudden ecological change would not augur well for the mega city.

Even if the conspiracy theory of ecological change is ignored, the health department, Karachi Municipal Corporation and other related departments have not taken adequate steps to check the onslaught of dengue in Karachi. The statistics would show that the dengue cases are being reported year after year in Karachi, making it an unbearable burden for the government as well as society. Saving a few fumigation rounds and ‘awareness’ campaign there is no concrete steps seen to seriously check the causes of dengue, including poor garbage collection, leaking lines of water and sewerage and lack of affordable diagnostic facilities for citizens. Special wards and research centers, modern laboratories, specialized training of doctors, nurses and paramedics to deal with the dengue cases are still a distant dream for Karachiites.

Dengue viral fever is not a Karachi or Pakistan specific healthcare problems but several other countries are also facing dengue cases, but we read only success stories in these countries. Even, a third world country like Sri Lanka has better management to control dengue as compared with Pakistan.

Karachi is the only port city of Pakistan and economic lifeline of this nation. Diseases like dengue should be taken as a grave warning signal not only for the healthcare of Karachiites but also for the economy of Pakistan. The government needs to wake from its traditional deep slumber and at least replicate the successful anti-dengue models and mechanisms of other countries, especially Asian nation, if it lack resources for original research on this disease, its treatment and control.