Let’s take the fight to Aedes
It is encouraging to know that the Directorate-General for Health Services (DGHS) recently identified 19 Aedes hotspots in Dhaka – areas extremely prone to dengue fever due to the widespread presence of the Aedes mosquito, the carrier of the virus. Of these, 10 are in the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and nine in the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC). The survey, which was carried out from July 29 to August 7 in 100 areas in 98 districts of the two city groups, is the first known quantitative risk assessment of this year’s dengue season in the capital, in which the highest number of dengue cases were reported. Followed by rapid and coordinated interventions, this will be very helpful in containing the spread of the virus. It can help narrow the focus in our fight against an “enemy” that until recently was largely ignored because of its far more contagious and dangerous counterpart – the coronavirus.
According to the survey, Basabo and Goran are at the top of the list of risk areas in the DSCC with 73.3 points in the Breteau index, while in the DNCC Moghbazar and New Eskaton are the most risky areas with 56.7 points. The Breteau index reflects the number of containers with Aedes larvae per 100 inspected houses. In addition to the 19 hotspots, there are 26 other areas in the DNCC and 30 in the DSCC that have received 20 points and are therefore also at risk. Further findings can be drawn from this survey: In the areas classified as risky, the highest 18.5 percent of Aedes larvae were found on flooded floors, 12.1 percent in plastic barrels, 9.4 percent in plastic buckets, 7.5 percent in Flower pots, 6.9 percent in discarded tires and 3.2 percent in pots.
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Even if there may still be places that the DGHS team missed – which visited around 3,000 houses as part of the survey – what we have now should give the authorities of two city corporations enough ammunition to fight the dengue instead of groping in the dark looking for a solution, giving the money for failures to each other or to the public, or randomly spraying larvicides / insecticides with no plan or goal.
The latest revelations come at a time when the dengue situation is showing no sign of aid. At least 291 dengue patients were hospitalized within 24 hours by Sunday morning. Of them, only 32 come from outside Dhaka. This brings the total number of people infected since January 2021 to at least 8,041 people, of whom 5,383 were infected in the last 22 days. Twelve people died in the past month and 24 in the last 22 days. The rising trend gives cause for serious concern as it comes against the background of still very high coronavirus infections that overwhelm the entire healthcare system. We cannot deal with another major crisis lurking in our backyard. The authorities need to step up efforts to address the dengue crisis by developing an inclusive, well-coordinated response plan, not just in Dhaka but across the country.