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Dhaka Tribune

Dengue fears surge as temperature starts to soar

  • Panic has set in since the beginning of the year
  • 2023 shatters previous records of both cases and deaths
  • Experts stress the importance of continuous mosquito control programs
Update : 15 Mar 2024, 09:30 AM

The fear of dengue is escalating among Dhaka residents as mercury starts to rise with the arrival of summer. 

Panic has set in since the beginning of the year, following reports of dengue cases in 2023, which shattered previous records for both cases and deaths related to dengue. Last year alone, a staggering 321,179 cases of dengue were recorded, accompanied by 1,705 deaths, marking the highest figures on record.

Experts stress the importance of continuous mosquito control programs throughout the year by city corporations and concerned authorities to curb the spread of dengue. 

Despite assurances and expressions of readiness from Dhaka city corporations and relevant stakeholders, actions have often fallen short of expectations. 

Even with maximum preparations last year, the efforts failed to yield desired results.

However, officials from city corporations remain optimistic about this year's preparations, believing they will play a significant role in dengue control. 

According to the Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS), dengue cases first emerged in Bangladesh in 2000, with 5,551 hospitalizations and 93 deaths. While there was a decline in cases and deaths in subsequent years, numbers began to surge again from 2019 onwards.

In 2019, more than 100,000 people were hospitalized with dengue, and 179 people died.

Then in 2020, dengue infections were low during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Seven people died of dengue in 2020, 105 in 2021 and 281 in 2022.

Experts’ opinion

The shifting climate has significantly altered the rainfall patterns within Bangladesh. As a result, traditional methods of dengue control have become insufficient, necessitating year-round measures to combat mosquito populations.

For this, the activities of the local government, city corporation and municipalities have to be strengthened and made more effective, say the experts.

Jahangirnagar University Zoology Department Prof Dr Kabirul Bashar said: "The concerned parties must start activities to control dengue from now on. Otherwise, there will be no benefit if measures are taken after the increase of dengue.”

Efforts should focus on areas with historically high dengue cases, with increased public involvement and awareness campaigns, he said. 

Maintaining cleanliness in areas prone to Aedes mosquito breeding is crucial. Dr Kabirul Bashar suggests that if proactive measures are taken promptly, dengue can be largely eradicated and controlled.

Preparation of city corporations

Dr Fazle Shamsul Kabir, chief health officer of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), told Dhaka Tribune:  "We have already started taking action to control dengue. Basically, there are two mosquito seasons; now the culex mosquito season is going on and then the dengue season will start. We are now spraying the medicine accordingly to kill the culex mosquitoes.” 

Canals, ponds, drains are being cleaned, leaflets are being distributed to increase public awareness by ward councilors. Apart from this, leaflets are being distributed in schools to increase awareness among students on what needs to be done to prevent dengue, he said.

Dr Fazle continued: "Besides, the treatment system has been strengthened with free dengue tests in three hospitals under Dhaka South City Corporation. I hope that it will be possible to control dengue this year."

Mir Khairul Alam, chief executive officer (CEO) of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) said: "Since dengue cannot be prevented in one day, it is important to control it at this moment. Therefore, DNCC is conducting a study on dengue hotspots. In the study, we found places where dengue is found, including underground parking sites of buildings. Preparing for intervention in places where Aedes mosquito larvae breed.

He also said: "Furthermore, we are using modern medicines to control dengue. We are also working with the advice of experts. We are hopeful that this year's preparation will play a more effective role than last year."

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