Health dept goes after dengue, all guns blazing


Punjab Health Director General Dr Nisar Ahmad Cheema said the department is working day and night to combat dengue in Punjab and especially in Lahore.
He was speaking at a two-day training workshop on ‘Rapid Response Teams on Disease Early Warning System (DEWS) In High Risk Districts of Punjab’ organised by the joint collaboration of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Punjab Health Department, which concluded on Wednesday at the Ambassador Hotel.
Dr Cheema said through proper planning and the combined efforts of the provincial departments, working jointly for combating the threat of dengue, the department has achieved a level of dengue control that countries like Sri Lanka and other countries affected by dengue achieved in 30 to 40 years. He stated that the Pakistani nation has great potential to cope with the dengue epidemic.
“The Diseases Early Warning System is providing us the opportunity to combat other communicable diseases,” Dr Cheema added.
Research and Development Unit Chairman Dr Waseem Akram said the currently, the time was not right for fogging and spraying in Lahore to control dengue.
He said an effective strategy needs to be implemented in the form of close coordination between departments, to prevent the possible outbreak of dengue this year. The cabinet committee has also been formed on the directions of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in this regard, he added.
He stated that people from different sectors who have received training from Sri Lanka and Thailand are now working as master trainers to train others from various districts regarding preventive measures against dengue.
WHO Punjab Operations Officer Dr Babar Alam said the workshop will be helpful for improving the capacity of districts in adopting the appropriate measures for early detection and effective prevention and control of communicable diseases according to the emerging needs and to establish an effective Disease Early Warning System (DEWS).
Dr Alam added that WHO is working with the Punjab government to fight all epidemic-prone diseases and it will keep providing its technical assistant to the Punjab government through international consultation and local academic partners.
“We can improve surveillance during the outbreak and vector control against dengue and other communicable diseases by working together,” said Dr Alam.
During the training workshop, Dengue Programme Operations Director Dr Islam Zafar, DEWS Provincial Coordinator Dr Jamshaid Ahmed, WHO DEWS Surveillance Officer Dr Farhan Khan and Dengue Master Trainer Dr Somia Iqtidar, presented their presentations on diseases and syndromes under surveillance, the viral hemorrhagic fever and dengue fever, clinical case management of dengue cases and the roles and responsibilities of the emergency response teams.
The workshop was attended by the EDO’s, DOH’s, pathologists, physicians, deputy district officers and medical officers from five districts of the Punjab, including Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Multan, Lahore and Faisalabad.
The participants said these kinds of workshops are useful in preparing Rapid Response Teams for epidemics and disease outbreak responses and to establish a foundation for the Disease Early Warning System in high risk districts.