ISLAMABAD: Dengue continues to haunt the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) as 44 people have lost their lives so far due to the mosquito-borne disease. Despite promises, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has failed to develop the fledgling health sector of the province. Arif Yousaf, special assistant to Chief Minister for Law, said the government had already done “a lot of work” to control dengue. “When a dengue case is detected in a locality, a 40-member team is assigned to the area to spray insecticide to contain its outbreak,” he added. Mian Iftikhar Hussain Shah, a senior member of Awami National Party (ANP), said that the PTI government had failed to deal with the outbreak. “The disturbing aspect is that it is now spreading to remote areas of the province. However, the government does not want to make such facts public,” he said. Talking to Daily Times, Dr Attaullah Khan, focal person for Dengue Response Unit (DRU) in KP, said: “During June, July, August, September and October this year, we have had 12,000 dengue cases.” On September 4, 2013, during inauguration ceremony of the free emergency treatment service at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in Peshawar, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had claimed that the health sector was his government’s top priority. The PTI chairman claimed he had experience in the health sector and he could fix the country’s health system. Dr Attaullah Khan said that 80% dengue cases were reported from Peshawar city and the rest from other parts of the province. Riaz Khan, a resident of Sufaid Dheri locality on the outskirts of Peshawar, said that dengue had claimed the lives of 17 members of his extended family so far. “There are facilities in leading hospitals of Peshawar, but they are under pressure because of the huge number of patients. I had to rush my relatives to the Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH). Screening tests take considerable time there,” he said. He said that one of his cousins had died during the past week from dengue. Dr Khan said anyone with dengue symptoms should immediately be hospitalised. He said that blood transfusion was important to save lives. “The patient should also be kept in isolation to keep him from passing the disease on to others,” he said. “PTI is a party which is only run on social media. It (the provincial government) cannot take practical steps,” Shah said. Dr Khan said the provincial government had introduced several measures to overcome the dengue outbreak, including launching the DRUs and awareness campaigns throughout the affected localities. He said that dengue was transmitted by mosquitoes and led to high fever, headaches, joint and muscle pain and exhaustion. Ishfaq Yousafzai, a journalist, said that dengue larvae bred in contaminated and stagnant water in populated areas. “Areas such as union councils 38, 39 and 40 are the most affected localities,” he said. He said the government was offering health services in leading hospitals of Peshawar. “A total of 97% dengue patients have been admitted to Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) alone,” he said. There are around 3,000 workshops in Tehkal area that have stagnant water and old tyres, he added. He said that the overall approach of the district government had been ineffective so far. “The district nazims are not doing anything to reverse the tide of the dengue epidemic,” he said. He said dengue had claimed 44 lives. “Two of them died in Abbottabad. The rest died in Peshawar,” he said. Shah warned that dengue virus was spreading to other parts of the province and the provincial government should devise a strategy to contain it. Dr Khan said that the PTI-led government had already formed some 200 DRU teams to contain the spread of the virus with active support from the water and sanitation departments, nazims and health department. “Each team has five members, including women, who conduct house-to-house visits to deal with dengue virus. They have so far declared 130,000 households clear of the mosquito-borne disease,” he said. MPA Sahibzada Sanaullah of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said that the official figures regarding dengue epidemic were misleading. “I believe the actual number of dengue patients is far higher,” he said. “The biggest tragedy in the aftermath of dengue outbreak is that the PTI has no strategy to deal with the epidemic,” he added. He said that the PTI faced certain defeat in the upcoming elections. “It is the responsibility of health department to control the outbreak of dengue virus. There is lack of coordination among various departments,” Yousafzai added. Shahram Khan Tarakai, the KP Health minister, remained unavailable for comments despite repeated attempts. Published in Daily Times, October 8th 2017.