The dengue situation is going from bad to worse, with the number of patients and the death toll on a steady rise. While there is no accurate account of how many people have been afflicted by the dengue virus, the estimate drawn up from the health department’s records put the count at over 350,000.
Dengue has now spread to all 64 districts of the country. Official records put the death toll at 18, but Prothom Alo’s investigations put this number at 85.
With this burgeoning number of dengue patients, it has become difficult for government and private hospitals to manage the huge influx and provide proper treatment. There is hardly any space to accommodate the patients and ensure they receive due treatment. With no vacant beds, patients are being kept on the floors, under the stairs and in verandas. Dhaka Medical College Hospital doesn’t even have empty space in its corridors anymore.
Many of these patients are sleeping without mosquito nets. In some hospitals they do not have extra mosquito nets for the patients and, in some cases the patients are not using the nets as it is too hot and suffocating. Dengue patients sleeping without mosquito nets put the other patients as risk as mosquitoes can transfer the virus from them to the others. The physicians, nurses, cleaners and visitors are similarly at risk. In Mugda of the capital city, 8 physicians and 27 nurses in a clinic have been afflicted with dengue and it could have been in this manner.
Alongside government hospitals, the number of dengue patients is increasing rapidly in private hospitals too. Patients are running from one hospital to another, often not finding vacant beds and having to return home.
This overcrowding of hospitals is affecting the management of these institutions and the quality of treatment is bound to be hampered. In order to address this situation, it is necessary to set up special temporary medical centres around the city.
Unless the government recognises the gravity of the situation, it will only worsen in the future and spiral out of control. The health department and the two city corporations must open special dengue treatment centres in all localities of the city. Community centres, schools and colleges and other such buildings can be used for the purpose. The doctors’ associations, Sandhani and other voluntary organisations can come forward in this regard.