–Punjab health minister says govt is trying to spread awareness through LHWs but ‘there’s little we can do’
LAHORE: The provincial health department has failed to come up with an effective strategy against the deadly dengue virus, as a surge in the number of such cases has been reported from various cities, including Lahore, in the past few days, Pakistan Today has observed.
According to recent reports, at least six cases have been reported in Lahore while 169 cases have been reported from other cities of the province. On Thursday, a 14-year-old girl was diagnosed with the virus in the Hanjarwal area of Lahore and is being treated in the isolation ward of Jinnah Hospital.
Surprisingly, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid feigned ignorance about the surge in the number of dengue cases in the province.
When asked about the steps being taken by the provincial government to counter dengue, the health minister said, “We launched a campaign with the lady health workers (LHWs) to stop the virus from spreading but there is little we can do,” she said.
However, informed sources confided to Pakistan Today that only a handful of LHWs had been involved in the campaign as most of them were busy at the protest at Charing Cross Chowk which lasted for four days.
It is pertinent to mention here that the government has not taken any preventive measures. When the provincial minister was asked about this, she said that it is the responsibility of the people to take preventive measures since there is no vaccine available for the virus.
Sources said that rift between the Lahore deputy commissioner (DC) and deputy district health officers (DDHOs) was also responsible for the failure to come up with a strategy against the deadly virus.
Sources in the district administration said that in a recent meeting, DC Salah Saeed lashed out at the DDHOs, saying, “Neither are you working on the dengue-prevention campaign nor are you doing anything for polio eradication. All of you are incompetent and should go home.”
In retaliation, Chief Executive Health Officer Dr Faisal boycotted the anti-dengue campaign and refused to work under the current DC.
It is worth mentioning that back in 2015, Dr Yasmeen Rashid had criticised the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government for failing to take action against the dengue fever.
When this scribe asked her about any new steps being taken by the government, she said, “We are implementing the same tactics and are doing out level best.”
Former Punjab minister Rana Mashood told Pakistan Today that when in government, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN-N) created and followed several Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in order to curb the spread of the virus and that these were now abandoned. “We made SOPs for every department and implemented them on the provincial, regional, and divisional level in uniformity.”
Moreover, he said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government has further added to the misery of the dengue victims by increasing medicine prices across the country, “The whole situation constitutes to criminal negligence and the PTI should be held accountable”, he concluded.