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Dhaka Tribune

Dengue outbreak: What to do and what not to do

The dengue outbreak in Bangladesh is a major challenge, but it is one that can be overcome

Update : 22 Jul 2023, 12:26 PM

The dengue outbreak in Bangladesh has reached alarming levels, with the number of cases and fatalities continuing to rise. The dengue outbreak in Bangladesh has taken a worrisome turn as the number of cases and fatalities continue to rise, signaling an alarming trend this year. 

Public health experts say that the country's dengue situation has reached such a stage that it should be declared a public health emergency, but the government is saying that the time is yet to come to do so. Dengue has killed over 150 people and forced about 30,000 to admit to the hospital since January this year. 

The Aedes mosquito, which carries the dengue virus, is found in urban and peri-urban areas. The mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, such as in puddles, discarded tires, and flower pots. To prevent the spread of dengue, it is important to eliminate these breeding grounds. 

The government of Bangladesh has taken some steps to control the outbreak, such as conducting fogging and spraying operations. However, more needs to be done to prevent the spread of the virus. Schools and workplaces should take steps to reduce mosquito breeding grounds. There should be more research into new treatments and vaccines for dengue.

Health experts have advised people to keep their surroundings clean and to destroy potential sources of breeding of Aedes mosquitoes. This is an important step, but it is not enough to control the outbreak. 

The government should increase funding for public health programs to combat dengue. More comprehensive measures are needed to address the underlying factors that are contributing to the spread of dengue. These include:

  • Lack of awareness: Many people in Bangladesh are not aware of the risks of dengue or how to prevent it. There is a need for a widespread public awareness campaign to educate people about the disease and how to protect themselves.
  • Poor sanitation: Poor sanitation is a major factor in the spread of dengue. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, and there is a lot of stagnant water in Bangladesh due to poor drainage and sanitation systems.

Climate change: Climate change is also contributing to the spread of dengue. The warmer temperatures and increased rainfall that are associated with climate change are creating more favourable conditions for mosquito breeding.

To control the dengue outbreak, it is important to address these underlying factors. This will require a coordinated effort from the government, the private sector, and the public. 

Here are some specific measures that can be taken:

  • Improve sanitation: The government should invest in improving sanitation systems in Bangladesh. This includes improving drainage, providing access to clean water, and disposing of waste properly.
  • Raise awareness: The government should launch a widespread public awareness campaign about dengue. This campaign should educate people about the risks of the disease, how to prevent it, and what to do if they think they have dengue.
  • Research: There is a need for more clinical research into new treatments and vaccines for dengue. This research will help to improve the way that dengue is treated and prevented.

In addition to the above, here are some other things that individuals can do to help control the dengue outbreak:

  • Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds: Around your home, empty stagnant water from containers such as flower pots, buckets, and tires.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors, especially during peak mosquito hours (dawn and dusk).
  • Use insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net.
  • If you think you have dengue, see a doctor immediately.

As a health activist, I understand the urgency and seriousness of the dengue outbreak in Bangladesh. To tackle the situation effectively, a comprehensive approach involving various measures is necessary. 

Here are some more probable solutions that can be implemented:

  1. Vector control: Implement aggressive vector control strategies to target and eliminate mosquito breeding sites. This can be achieved through regular surveillance and larval source reduction, such as removing stagnant water and improving sanitation practices in communities.
  2. Mosquito control measures: Enhance mosquito control measures, including indoor residual spraying with insecticides, especially in high-risk areas. Additionally, distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets can help protect individuals from mosquito bites, particularly during peak biting times.
  3. Medical infrastructure strengthening: Strengthen the capacity of healthcare facilities to manage dengue cases. This includes training healthcare workers on dengue diagnosis and treatment, ensuring availability of diagnostic tests and medical supplies, and improving the management of severe cases through proper monitoring and supportive care.
  4. Surveillance and early warning systems: Establish a robust surveillance system to monitor the dengue situation and detect outbreaks early. This can help in mobilizing resources and implementing control measures promptly.
  5. Community engagement: Engage local communities in dengue prevention efforts by organizing community clean-up campaigns and involving community leaders and volunteers. Encourage individuals to take responsibility for maintaining a clean environment and eliminating mosquito breeding sites in their surroundings.
  6. Research and development: Support research efforts to better understand the dengue virus, its transmission dynamics, and potential interventions. This can contribute to the development of new tools, vaccines, and therapeutics for dengue prevention and control.
  7. Collaboration and coordination: Foster collaboration and coordination among different stakeholders, including government agencies, healthcare providers, research organizations, and non-governmental and international partners. This will facilitate the sharing of resources, expertise, and best practices in tackling the dengue outbreak.

It is essential to implement these measures comprehensively and sustain them over the long term to effectively control the dengue outbreak in Bangladesh. Regular evaluation and adaptation of strategies based on the evolving situation will be crucial to address the challenges posed by dengue. 

The dengue outbreak in Bangladesh is a major challenge, but it is one that can be overcome. By taking the appropriate measures, we can control the outbreak and protect ourselves and our country's people from this deadly virus.

Sumit Banik is a Public Health Activist & Trainer (email: [email protected]). Disclaimer: This article was produced by the support of ChatGPT

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