EDITORIAL: Dengue outbreak
The best ways to prevent the disease from spreading in settlements is to remove waterlogged areas, keep the settlements clean and properly dump bio-degradables
The spread of dengue has now become a real health threat. As many as 400 people – 320 in Chitwan, 60 in Jhapa and the rest in the Kathmandu Valley – have been reported to be infected with dengue disease that spreads after Aedes-agypti and Aedes-albopicitus mosquitoes become infected when they suck the blood of dengue-infected people.
The situation has sounded an alarm bell to the health workers in those districts who have not been able to bring it under control.
The disease which commonly spreads in the hot areas like in Tarai has also been detected even in relatively cold areas such as in the Valley due to over population, unhygienic living conditions and movement of a large number of people from hot to cold places.
Considering the seriousness of the mosquito-borne disease that has engulfed large parts of these districts the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) under the Department of Health Services has deployed three separate medical teams in dengue-hit Jhapa and Chitwan to bring it under control.
A health team has already started its work in Jhapa while the health workers from BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences have also been pressed into service. Another team is working in the worst affected Chitwan district.
Extensive drive against the disease is necessary to bring it under control. The respective teams are required to report to the EDCD about the progress being made on the drive against the disease, the symptoms of which are mild to high fever, headache and pain in eyes and rashes.
The teams will carry out search-and-destroy acts as well as raise awareness among the people about the ways to be safe from dengue. Health workers, female community health workers, teachers and social mobilisers have been pressed into service to raise awareness.
Likewise, the EDCD has also launched a national campaign in the national print and electronic mass media to raise awareness about the disease which can be controlled if the people follow proper means of protection from getting infected with it.
Health workers in these districts have said that the disease could break as an epidemic if precautionary measures are not taken immediately.
Estimates have it that thousands of people get affected by dengue and some of them may also die if proper attention is not paid on time. In this situation, the health authorities must act on time before it becomes too late.
The best ways to prevent the disease from spreading in settlements is to remove waterlogged areas, keep the settlements always clean and properly dump bio-degradable garbage away from human settlements and use insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
The government should also distribute these types of mosquito nets to people free of charge in the districts highly prone to dengue and other mosquito-related diseases such as malaria and Japanese encephalitis.
People living in the dengue and malaria prone areas should also develop the habit of using the insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
At the same time, all the health facilities and health workers in the concerned districts should be provided with adequate medicines, resources and skills so that they can respond promptly in case of outbreak of these diseases.
Several decades ago Nepal used to export rice and was self-reliant. However, these days it is facing a food deficit and is compelled to import rice. But Nepal could be self-sufficient in rice within two years were it to make the most of advanced technology which has helped in developing new strains of rice.
This would be possible if the farmers were encouraged to adopt climate-smart rice varieties. These strains of rice would help increase the production of rice as they would be stress-tolerant.
There is a project underway that seeks to make this possible by minimizing poverty and hunger and increasing the income of impoverished families. They would be provided with drought tolerant improved seeds.
So far, the government has released eight rice varieties for cultivation in Nepal. Among them, six varieties are recommended for fields prone to drought and two varieties that would be able to grow even in areas which are prone to floods.
The project is already being carried out in four districts of the western region, ten districts of the mid-western regions and six districts of the far west.