Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar inaugurated the international conference on dengue, 2020 being organised under the aegis of primary and secondary healthcare department at a local hotel on Thursday.Addressing the inaugural session, the chief minister said that dengue disease has affected several countries including Pakistan and assured that the government would continue working hard for complete eradication of this disease. The chief minister told that he visited different districts last year to monitor the field situation. The Punjab government took immediate steps to control the situation. More than 20 thousand dengue cases surfaced in Punjab in 2011 and around 350 died. Dengue again surfaced in Punjab in 2019 and Rawalpindi was the worst-hit district. I was very much aggrieved over the loss of lives due to dengue in 2019, he said. The government ran an organized anti-dengue campaign which proved successful. Provincial minister and secretary health took an active part in this campaign along with political representatives, he added. He said that political leadership is duty-bound to provide moral, financial and administrative support for health and safety of the citizens while the line departments are responsible to ensure implementation of the devised plan. The government is engaged in devising a permanent solution to overcome dengue instead of taking some temporary steps and the government is fully committed to providing a healthy atmosphere to the citizens. He appreciated the services of assembly members, civil society as well as politicians for the eradication of dengue and said that protection of citizens’ health is a responsibility of the government. The PTI government is fully committed in this regard, he added. The chief minister reiterated that timely eradication of dengue and other deadly diseases is an important priority of the Punjab government and it is working to minimize the negative effects of dengue disease. He hoped that the government’s efforts will bear fruit and this international conference would prove a game-changer event for the eradication of dengue disease.Speaking on the occasion, Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid Punjab will prepare its 10-year dengue strategy in light of the review and discussion by local and international experts. Punjab has organized the International Dengue Conference 2020, bringing together leading global experts to develop action plan to control dengue in the wake of a global endemic that has hit countries from Far East Asia to South Asia. The disease is fast spreading from tropical regions into the sub-tropical regions of the world. Dengue cases have seen a dramatic rise in many countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka Bangladesh and others over the past three years.Dr. Yasmin Rashid said: “Experts from the academia, including virologists, epidemiologists, Public Health as well as researchers have been invited from across the regions to discuss and share experiences. They will review the existing strategies and if needed, revise SOPs related to case detection, diagnosis, clinical managements, treatment, surveillance and Social Mobilization related to dengue.” The Minister said that Punjab has hired over 6000 dengue workers and the department has been strenuously working on cities hit hard by the epidemic. Punjab in the last low season has seen a decrease in cases by the efforts of the team led by Secretary PSH Captain (retd) Usman Younas. Dr. Yasmin Rashid further said that the conference will help put together strategies that will not only be helpful for Pakistan, but also for other countries of the region. Earlier, musical show and cultural performances highlighting the bright side of Pakistan were presented for the audience.Meanwhile, Usman Buzdar presided over a meeting at his office to review proposals for building a new city near the River Ravi on Thursday. DG LDA Sumair Ahmed Saeed gave a briefing about the proposed project. The chief minister directed to constitute a high-level steering committee comprising of federal and provincial government departments and other stakeholders to review and examine the proposed plan and submit its recommendations. He also directed to work out recommendations for developing a new city around any other district except Lahore adding that alternate model should be worked out, instead of focusing on any particular city, for building the new city. Building new cities is important in the wake of population increase, he added. Housing Minister Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed, Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing Authority, Chief Secretary, Vice Chairman LDA, SMBR, Chairman P&D and others attended the meeting.Meanwhile, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar expressed a deep sense of sorrow and grief over the sad demise of daily Jang Rawalpindi’s assistant editor Syed Shams Rizvi. In a condolence message, he prayed that may Allah Almighty rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved family to bear the loss with fortitude.Usman Buzdar also sought a report from the health department about a news-item aired at media regarding surfacing of a polio case in DG Khan. He expressed indignation over the performance of line departments and asserted that surfacing of poliovirus is a very serious matter. I will not tolerate any negligence in the anti-polio campaign, he warned. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the future of the country and coordinated efforts should be made to improve the situation. It is our mission to make Pakistan polio-free and line departments will have to work with more zeal to save the children from polio, he concluded.