Dengue situation: Arrange for rapid testing

It is deeply concerning that the death toll from dengue fever has surpassed 250 nationwide as of Monday. According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) press release, in the past 24 hours, 2,694 people were admitted to hospitals with dengue, bringing the total number of hospitalised cases to 9,386 across the country. Of these, 5,011 people are receiving treatment in hospitals in Dhaka city, while 4,375 are in hospitals outside Dhaka. The DGHS has reported a total of 51,832 confirmed dengue cases this year.

However, it’s important to note that the actual number of dengue patients may be much higher, as many infected individuals do not seek tests or hospitalisation. The dangerous symptoms of dengue include persistent vomiting, bleeding from the gums or nose, blood in the urine and stools, uncontrolled bowel movements, bleeding under the skin (resembling bruises), rapid breathing, and fatigue. Immediate medical attention is crucial if anyone experiences these symptoms.

Physicians have observed that 80 per cent of the patients who died in hospitals were seriously ill upon admission. Lack of awareness often leads many people to delay seeking medical care. However, those who do seek early examination allegedly face various challenges. The dengue test costs Tk 50 in government hospitals and Tk 300 in private hospitals. Unfortunately, government hospitals are frequently overcrowded with patients, and some individuals have expressed frustration over delays in receiving their test reports. Officials occasionally attribute these delays to server issues or a shortage of test kits.

Doctors strongly recommend seeking immediate treatment for dengue disease. However, if test results are not promptly received, patients might face challenges in receiving timely treatment. Experts express concerns that the measures taken to combat dengue are too conventional, and they also highlight the changing nature of the disease.

Public health specialist Mushtuq Husain has pointed out various mismanagement issues in the treatment of dengue patients. He suggests that every hospital should have a primary care centre where patients can receive care alongside dengue testing. After diagnosis, patients should be treated at these centres rather than being sent home. Regrettably, no government or private hospital in Bangladesh currently possesses such facilities.

The situation might not have become so critical if there were effective and proactive efforts to prevent dengue at the beginning of the year. Eradicating dengue cannot rely solely on treatment; it requires the destruction of breeding grounds of Aedes mosquito. Creating public awareness is also crucial, and local government organisations should work continuously with the community. Previously, dengue outbreaks were thought to be limited to the monsoon season, but now the disease affects people throughout the year.

To eliminate dengue, the country needs to implement short, medium, and long-term plans, with all government departments, local bodies, and the DGHS working together in coordination. Increasing public awareness is essential and has no alternative solution.