Dengue situation likely to worsen this year

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Dengue claimed a record number of lives in the country last year. With just the beginning, dengue threatens to be more fatal this year. Everyone has to work together to handle a possible worst outbreak of dengue this year.

Health minister Samanta Lal Sen and top health officials said this in a meeting on 'reducing the outbreak of dengue and Chikungunya and coordinating medical services' organised by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday. Mayors of two city corporations of Dhaka were present in the meeting. The meeting was organised to enhance coordination of work on dengue prevention.

After the meeting, the health minister told reporters that it is not possible for the government alone to bring dengue under control. Citizens should be active in mosquito control. He said the hospitals have been instructed to be ready while awareness campaigns should be run at ward level.

Dhaka south city corporation mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh expressed concern at the meeting about the high fatality of dengue in the country. Dhaka north city corporation mayor Atiqul Islam said that mosquito repellents should be made easily available.

The DNCC mayor also said that they could not use Bti (a sort of bacteria which destroys mosquito larvae) bought last year. There was corruption in the supply of Bti. This year the city corporation will buy Bti directly from abroad.

Additional director general (planning and development) of the department of health Meerjady Sabrina presented the keynote paper about the dengue situation. She said that 849 people died of dengue in the country from 2000 to 2022 while 1,705 people died in 2023 alone. The number of infected in the first two and a half months of this year is more than the corresponding period of the last year. Mosquito surveys showed a high prevalence of mosquitoes.

At the end of the meeting, she told Prothom Alo that unless concerted efforts are taken to control mosquitoes, there is a danger that the dengue outbreak will be higher this year than last year.

Meerjady Sabrina in her paper said the health department has already taken several initiatives to deal with the dengue situation. The steps include enhancing monitoring, building capacity of health workers, updating dengue disease management guidelines, reviewing deaths and fixing dengue testing fees.

The National Strategic Plan for Dengue Prevention and Control (2024-2030) was supposed to be approved in the meeting. But the health directorate did not present the plan in the meeting.

State minister for health Rokeya Sultana, Prime Minister's personal physician ABM Abdullah, president of Bangladesh Medical Association Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin, Director General of health directorate director general of the Directorate General of Health Services Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, among others, were present in the meeting.