Nepal | December 11, 2019

EDITORIAL: Threats of dengue

As there is no prescribed medicine to cure dengue, the three tiers of government must launch awareness drives in the affected districts

Except for Karnali Province, people from the other six provinces have been affected by the outbreak of the dengue virus, mostly in the Tarai region, Kaski and Kathmandu. According to data maintained by the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division under the Department of Health, Makwanpur, Kaski, Chitwan, Jhapa and Kathmandu districts have seen the largest number of people suffering from the mosquito-borne disease since the last one month (July 1 to September 3). Till last week, as many as 1,537 cases of dengue cases were recorded across the country. But it jumped to 2,559 by Wednesday, up by 66 per cent in a week. As many as 1,867 people were found to have tested positive for the disease in the five districts alone. The disease has spread rapidly in Makwanpur (546), Kaski (517), Chitwan (434) and Jhapa (294). A total of 10 districts are affected by the disease, which is transmitted to humans after being bitten by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. It is likely to bite early in the morning or before dusk. First detected in Sunsari at the onset of the monsoon, the disease has now spread in the urban areas as frequent rainfall has provided a breeding ground for the vector.

Doctors say these mosquitoes generally grow in mismanaged cities with improper waste management. Dengue-causing mosquitoes lay eggs in water that accumulate in discarded tyres, bottles and cans, flower pots, air conditioners, rainwater collected in urban areas and waterlogged areas. Climate change, leading to rising temperature, is also contributing to the rise of dengue as such cases have also been detected in relatively cooler climatic areas. Common symptoms of dengue include high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, pain in muscles and bones, rashes and back pain. So far, three people have died from dengue.

As there is no specific medicine to cure the disease, the only way to stay safe from this disease is to destroy mosquitoes and their breeding areas; keep the local environment neat and clean; always use mosquito nets; and apply mosquito repellents. One should always wear long sleeves and trousers to cover the arms and legs; remove water from the ground, water pots and discarded tyres. Once the said symptoms become visible, one must take complete rest and drink plenty of liquid food and consult doctors if the fever does not subside within seven to 10 days. Medicine should be taken only on a doctor’s advice. Although the disease became active earlier, the dengue virus is expected to remain active till December. So, the three tiers of government must work in tandem to make a “mosquito search and destroy campaign” a success. So far, the government has asked the public not to use a dengue kit in suspected cases due to its acute shortage. It means the government is still underestimating the further spread of the dengue virus despite its regular occurrence since 2010. The virus is sure to take all the districts in its grip over the next decade thanks to easy access of transportation, rapid urbanisation, poor hygiene and sanitation, ineffective measures to control it and lack of political commitment. The only way to control it is to raise awareness in the dengue-affected districts.

Resume Melamchi

It is rare to see a project complete in time in Nepal. The projects get delayed for many reasons, not the least being obstacles posed by the locals and workers. The cost escalation, as a result, is a heavy drain on the government’s resources. The construction of the Melamchi Drinking Water Project has been stalled for months, after the Italian contractor left the scene without completing it. A new contractor – Sinohydro – has been found, but the vendors and local suppliers have said they will not allow construction to resume unless their dues, which the Italian contractor had failed to pay, are cleared.

Why has the government not done anything towards addressing the grievances of the workers these past months? The government on Wednesday formed a committee to study the issue and make recommendations on the outstanding dues. For how long should the national pride project be made to wait before the construction can begin? The government must resume its construction at the earliest while simultaneously resolving the grievances of the aggrieved parties. Individuals must not be allowed to hold a project costing billions to ransom to get their demands met. This is anarchy.



A version of this article appears in print on September 06, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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