Dengue fever and the mosquitoes that are key in its endemic level spread are getting out of control in KPK. And now there are reports that the provincial government has requested the help of the Singaporean government to stop breeding mosquitoes that spread dengue. Though the provincial government has denied these media reports, the wide spread of dengue fever & mosquitoes in the province raises some critical questions about the public health priorities and policies of the provincial government.
According to the latest figures released by the health department, 275 more people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa fell ill due to dengue mosquito bites on 24th October. This is the number of 24 hours. On average, 300 people are being reported ill due to dengue mosquito on daily basis. The number of affected people in the province has crossed 16,000.
First case of dengue virus in Pakistan was reported from the Hub region of Balochistan in 1960, which continued to increase thereafter.
According to the report, Peshawar is the most affected by dengue where the number of affected people has increased to 6 thousand 632 with 118 new cases in a day. According to the health department, 3 thousand 321 people in Mardan, 1 thousand 26 people in Khyber and 872 people in Nowshera have been affected by dengue virus so far. In this season, 14 people died in the province, including seven from Nowshera, five from Khyber and one each from Mansehra and Mardan.
These growing cases of dengue fever mosquitoes indicate a simple fact that provincial government of KP is losing control over the virus spread in the province. In this regard, it has been reported that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has requested the help of the Singapore government to eliminate dengue mosquitoes through “biological methods” through modern technology. Furthermore, it has been reported as well that KP government is expected to meet with the Singapore government on this issue very soon, after which work will be done in this regard through bilateral consultation.
One of the major challenges KP government is faced with is the fact that there is still no laboratory working on dengue and no research is being done.
Dengue is not being taken seriously and for the past several years, all attention has been focused on spraying and awareness campaigns only. No research and development work was initiated on combating the endemic itself. Pakistan is far behind in the use of modern technology around the world. Whatever research work is being done is limited to statistical analysis of the dengue spread. According to a research paper of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regarding dengue virus, about 20 million dengue cases and 20 thousand deaths occur worldwide every year.
Good news is that young talent is taking an interest in this field. For example, Jahangir Khan, a young scientist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has received his PhD from Sun Yat-sen University, China, in which he wrote a thesis on the topic of ‘Establishment of Key Technology for Dengue Fever and Aedes Mosquito Control in Pakistan’. He has been conducting research on mosquito-borne diseases and dengue in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the past 13 years.
Such people can bring their global experience home and Pakistan can also adopt polices similar to developed world where the breeding to dengue mosquitoes has been eliminated by biological methods, the dengue virus has been almost completely eradicated from there. In biological method, we introduce the bacteria called Webicia into mosquito eggs, and when the newly formed mosquitoes are released into the open air, they mate with wild mosquitoes and kill their ability to reproduce. This is called biological mechanism.
KP government must allocate all necessary help to young Pakistani scientists to develop in house solutions for dengue spread according to our own requirements.