HomeIndiaDengue rises in Pakistan submerged due to floodsSEXI News

Dengue rises in Pakistan submerged due to floodsSEXI News

Dengue rises in Pakistan submerged due to floods

Kiran Akif said, “I will not wish dengue on my enemies.” The news of dengue outbreak earlier this month brought back memories of her illness from the potentially deadly, mosquito-borne disease in October last year.

The 43-year-old administrator of a private school in Lahore spoke with concern as she felt there could be devastation in parts of Pakistan that were still flooded with flood waters.

“The fact that hundreds of thousands of displaced people in our country are sleeping under open skies, near huge swamps of stagnant water, is appalling,” Akif said.

The worst floods in a decade have displaced more than 33 million people in Pakistan since mid-June. According to the National Disaster Management Authority, more than 1,500 people have been killed and over 12,800 injured.

The southern provinces of Sindh and Balochistan have been the most affected by the floods. Both experienced the hottest August on record, receiving seven and eight times their normal monthly rainfall, respectively; A study released last week said climate change could increase the most intense rainfall by 50%.

dengue pakistan
Standing water around a railway line in Sindh, one of the worst-hit provinces by this year’s floods, on 6 September 2022 (Image: Akhtar Soumro / Aalmi)

The deluge left behind large areas of standing water: in August, 37% of crop land in Sindh was submerged, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 16% of crop land was affected; 15% in Balochistan; and 9% in Punjab.

This standing flood water provides a large area for mosquitoes to breed, which spread diseases like malaria and dengue.

Naseem Salahuddin, an infectious disease specialist working at The Indus Hospital, a charitable hospital in Sindh’s capital Karachi, said she was “overwhelmed” by the “huge number of patients” coming to the hospital with dengue. “My colleagues in government facilities and even private ones are referring patients out because they do not have enough beds,” he said. “Dengue seems to have replaced Covid-19.”

Symptoms prevalent, but testing and treatment in short supply

In most people, the dengue virus causes an acute flu-like illness, but it can develop into severe dengue with potentially fatal complications.

Salahuddin said he was particularly concerned for the more than 650,000 pregnant women in flood-affected areas across Pakistan. According to the United Nations Population Fund, about 73,000 of them are due to give birth in September. “It’s going to be a losing battle,” she said. “Both mother and baby can die if they are not diagnosed” [for dengue or malaria] And, therefore, untreated,” said Salahuddin, explaining that the diseases can lead to miscarriage or premature birth of women.

Humaira Bachal, founder of Roshan Pakistan Academy, an education and healthcare organization, has been providing frontline relief since the floods began. She said she and her team had “confirmed cases of dengue” after testing displaced people at a camp on the outskirts of Karachi.

But, he said, in rural areas, especially Sindh, skin infections in children are so high that the skin on their heads and feet “peeles”, and “gastroenteritis is causing death”. The scale of these many health care crises means that health workers have neither the time nor the means to test people for dengue.

“We only give them basic treatment to save their lives,” Bachal said.

Bachal said fever is common among flood-affected people, but there is no way to confirm whether people have dengue. The organizations Bachhal has faced do not have dengue testing kits.

In early September, Junera Zulfikar, a pediatrician at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), was working at SIUT’s medical camp for flood victims in the coastal district of Lasbela, Balochistan (near Karachi). While she said she saw dengue test kits being used, “there were a lot of patients with obvious symptoms of dengue, also known as ‘breakbone fever’, as it is commonly associated with severe body aches, headache, Presents as fever and vomiting. The symptoms of malaria are not exactly the same.”

Now, pediatricians are working in the wards of the SIUT, which he said is full of dengue patients.

“About six to eight out of every 20 patients we have admitted are testing positive for dengue; We are primarily a nephrology-related hospital, so these are the patients whose kidneys have been affected by dengue,” said Zulfikar, adding that the number could go up to 15 out of every 20 patients at the Civil Hospital Karachi.

A government flood report released on September 17 showed that dengue cases are also increasing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Third Dhruva asked the authorities about the situation in Balochistan, but at the time of publication, there was no response.

Administration not ready for dengue outbreak

Although dengue is common across Pakistan after the monsoon rains, health experts say the Pakistani government comes as a surprise every year.

“They are never prepared and when things get out of control they tend to put out the fire,” said Pakistan Medical Association general secretary Kaiser Sajjad.

But Muhammad Juman Bahoto, Director General of Health Services Sindh, described the stories around the dengue outbreak as an “exaggeration”.

“Dengue was being reported mostly from Karachi, some from Hyderabad and some from Sukkur,” Bahoto said, adding that the provincial disease surveillance response unit was on alert and only malaria cases instead of dengue were being reported among displaced people. .

Bahoto said the mosquito species that spread dengue thrive in stagnant water that is usually stored in pots or abandoned tyres, not in large bodies of flood water.

Zulfikar agreed that the number of malaria cases reported is high, but pointed out that there are at least anti-malarial drugs. “There is no cure for dengue, other than hydration, fever control and helping patients survive, if [blood] Platelets drop or organs are affected.”

Frontline health worker Bachal described the gravity of the situation in Sindh: “If you put a mosquito net at night in any flood-affected area, by morning you will see a net covered with mosquitoes.” Due to the lack of nets, many people use them to protect their livestock from flood survivors and instead cover themselves with cloth, he said.

Standing water around a railway line in Sindh, one of the worst-hit provinces by this year’s floods, on 6 September 2022 (Image: Akhtar Soumro / Aalmi)

PMA’s Karachi division general secretary Abdul Ghafoor Shoro said that the PMA teams found people sleeping without mosquito nets in the open in the flood-affected areas. “The government has received thousands of them” [nets] in aid; Where are they?”

In the absence of testing kits, Bahuto of Health Services Sindh insisted that health workers “can make a fairly good diagnosis based on patients’ history” and that often people do not contract dengue. Last week, the World Health Organization handed over 42,000 and 13,500 rapid diagnostic kits for dengue and malaria respectively. Now, Bahoto assures the third pole, the test can be done accurately.

Shoro remained unconvinced, and said that he saw “little seriousness” in his handling of the disease. “This [the government] Uses fancy words but little action on the ground.

As of 21 September, 27 deaths due to dengue have been officially reported in Sindh. Independent health experts told the newspaper Dawn that the actual number is likely to be much higher, given the lack of testing in the flood-affected areas.

‘break the cycle’

Two species of mosquitoes that spread dengue more than a thousand kilometers north of Karachi in Islamabad- aedes aegypti And aedes albopictus – have long been found in abundance, said Ejaz Ali, a virologist at the Department of Bioscience at Comsat University in Islamabad. But a third aedes vittus“It was reported there for the first time this year, which has not been reported from any part of Pakistan,” he said.

Erum Khan, chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Karachi’s Aga Khan University Hospital, said the effects of climate change in Pakistan are causing “increased summer temperatures and humidity and a decrease in harsh winter days”. These are conditions in which disease carriers such as mosquitoes thrive.

Ali said authorities needed to “break the cycle at an early stage by doing regular larvicidal activity over a few days” to contain the outbreak.

With such a large area of ​​standing water for mosquitoes to breed this year, the quickest option is aerial spraying, as has been done in recent years in response to locust swarms, Shoro suggested.

“Or lakes are full of larval-eating fish, as is the case in countries like Malaysia and Singapore,” Khan said.

Zulfikar warned that this year’s outbreak could be fatal. Apart from immediate spraying, she said, “the government needs to launch awareness campaigns and regulate prices and ensure availability of mosquito nets, mosquito repellents and life saving medicines”.

This article was originally published on The Third Pole and is reproduced with permission


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