Devastating deluge, deadly dengue and a dying public administration system | Pakistan Today

Devastating deluge, deadly dengue and a dying public administration system

The recurrence of devastating floods and dengue epidemic in the country is not simply a coincidence rather it is a failure of the national public administration system and the Punjab and Sindh provinces. Both, the floods and dengue outbreak are not new phenomena as they have been as much part of the nature as life itself and the efforts of the mankind for averting natural disasters too have been a core issue of the public security and safety through administrative measures. The proper planning and precautionary measures against epidemics, contagious or other diseases threatening public health and natural calamities is the area of public administration, otherwise such occurrences always result in larger scale catastrophes and that is what is happening in Pakistan.
The country saw dengue outbreak and devastating floods last years as well. Then, too, there had been confirmed many cases of dengue in Lahore and Rawalpindi districts of Punjab but the authorities did not do anything to stop it recurrence the next year. The epidemic could have been averted had the provincial government done proper planning against the spread of the disease.
“Dengue mostly breeds in humid weather conditions and monsoon season provides it the ideal habitat for breeding. Its impact can affectively be contained by spraying certain chemicals and medicines when the dengue mosquitoes lays eggs but if you miss that stage and the eggs become larva, it is very difficult to control it”, Dr Zahid Hussain, a researcher in the Public Health Administration, told Pakistan Today.
He said the government should have evolved a proper a precautionary safety mechanism utilising the public administration system when the dengue outbreak was reported last year. “The present crisis is no longer a medical issue now and it is the inefficient public administration system that led to this catastrophe. The Punjab government is the real culprit here because it could have controlled and averted the situation by taking timely precautionary measures,” Dr Zahid added.
He warned that the next year could be more devastating if the government again ignored the problem and did not evolve a comprehensive plan to combat the dengue virus.
Similarly, the havoc wreaked by this year’s floods could have been curtailed through timely proper planning. The devastation in Sindh is usually said to be more of a man-made disaster than a natural one.
The irresponsible or inefficient public administration system was the real cause of widespread damages in Sindh, Dr Akash Ansari, the chief executive of Badin Rural Development Society (BARDS), told Pakistan Today. BARDS is a non-governmental organization, which is actively carrying out the relief work in the flooded areas of Sindh.
“I am unable to understand that you carry out a survey for a contingency plan and miss the repair of embankments of the Left Bank Out-fall Drain, which is one of the largest drains in Asia. It cannot happen if you have an efficient public administration in place in the province or even in the country”, Ansari added.
He lamented that the losses would have been largely minimised had the embankments along the Left Bank Out-fall Drain been strengthened in time and that it was a sheer failure of the public administration system.
A senior bureaucrat working at the Prime Minister Secretariat, requesting anonymity, told Pakistan Today that it was true that the public administration system was to blame for the colossal losses because of the floods.
He said that public administration could only be made an effective tool against epidemics or natural calamities with an unwavering political will or force and an aggressive public awareness campaign.
“It is, in other words, an issue of good governance and a governance can only the improved with public awareness and education otherwise, there is no other solution to that problem”, the bureaucrat added.

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