Biggest coordinated efforts to control dengue

The government has adopted an intersectoral coordination programme to control dengue and other vector-borne diseases from next year. In view of this a meeting among the government concerned departments were held recently to introduce globally accepted insect control programme. The meeting decided to enhance collaboration within the health and other concerned departments like the city corporations, municipal authorities, advocacy, social mobilization and build capacity.

It would be a massive operation in insect control programme involving all department concerned to put coordinated efforts to control the vector or Aedes mosquitoes that carry the virus – dengue which causes the infection. Insect experts or entomologists, including doctors, suggested introducing globally practised (WHO recommended) Integrated Vector Management (IVM) approach whereas City Corporations, health department and other concerned departments have to develop coordinated plans to work together from the beginning of the year to thwart dengue.

Chief Scientific Officer of Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Dr MM Akhtaruzzaman told Bangladesh Post, “Dengue has long been recognized as a public health problem not only in the capital Dhaka but it has spread across the country this year. The high temperature, humidity and variation of rainfall are the main reasons behind dengue outbreak this year, which is, of course, a major concern. High temperature helped to breed Aedes mosquito and as result dengue cases flared up unprecedentedly.”

Akhtaruzzaman, who is also the programme manager of dengue, said, “About one lakh people were infected with dengue virus this year transmitted by Aedes mosquito. To control dengue and other vector-borne diseases next year, we have planned to introduce IVM. City Corporations, health department and other concerned departments will take early measures to prevent transmission of the virus by destroying the breeding places of the mosquito.”

IVM is a rational decision-making process for the optimal use of resources for insect control. The approach seeks to improve the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, ecological soundness and sustainability of a control programme on vector-borne disease. The ultimate goal is to prevent the transmission of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis and Chagas disease.

According to the government data, about 99,755 people with dengue infection were admitted to different public and private hospitals this year. Of them, 98,972 people left the hospital after treatment. Besides, about one hundred people are still infected with dengue virus per day across the country.

A total of 121 dengue patients have died across Bangladesh from January 1 till November 27, according to data shared by the health directorate. However, the unofficial death toll is reported to be more than 250. In the wake of this year’s dengue outbreak, the government has adopted an integrated working plan to thwart the dengue outbreak next year.

Experts say that a year-long action plan and strategy have to be introduced to prevent dengue outbreak. Otherwise, the situation could be worse next year. Preventive medicine specialist Dr Lelin Chowdhury told Bangladesh Post, “A comprehensive national-level action plan is needed to eradicate Aedes mosquito; which will work from the city corporation to the village level.”

He said, “Chemical control, biological control and environmental control have to be done together to eradicate mosquitoes. Besides, people need to knowledge on destroying the breeding grounds of Aedes mosquito.” The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has adopted a year-long strategy to control dengue infection. On November 21, the department held a meeting with city corporations and all concerned, including specialist doctors of all hospitals serving in the department of medicine in this regard.

Dr Ayesha Akhter, assistant director at Health Emergency Operations Center and Control Room of the Health Department told Bangladesh Post, “The Department of Health has conducted a meeting to determine what strategies to adopt next year. We must work together. Dengue treatment guidelines will also be changed.”

Dr Ayesha said, “Around 2000 doctors have been given training on treating dengue infection this year. We are planning to give training to another group of doctors who are usually involved in treating such infection (dengue treatment).” She also said, “Everyone will be trained again (even who were exposed before) as the dengue treatment guidelines regarding dengue will be changed. We have seen the prevalence of dengue outside Dhaka such as Khulna and Barisal. Therefore, special training and necessary measures will be taken in such places outside the capital. The mosquito survey will continue all the year-round.”

Chief Health Officer of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Brig Gen MdMominur Rahman Mamun said, “There was a lack of coordination and knowledge gap on various aspects tied to the prevention and containment of dengue on part of the authorities before a WHO mosquito expert’s visit to Dhaka in August this year.”

“Now, we have planned to work with all concerned departments together with knowledge and capabilities. Such combined strength in vector-borne disease control programme will certainly help us to address the crisis,” he said. Dhaka South City Corporation’s Chief Health Officer Dr Md Sharif Ahmed told this correspondent, “We have planned to introduce an intersectoral coordination mechanism. Besides, the city corporation will work all the year-round to thwart dengue. Fluid management or larviciding will be done from the beginning of next year.”