LAHORE - Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar has reiterated the resolve of making all out efforts for complete eradication of dengue.

Addressing inaugural session of two day international conference on dengue as chief guest at a local hotel on Thursday, he said that preventive measures were the best solution to avoid dengue which was prevalent in many countries. Punjab has organized the International Dengue Conference 2020, bringing together leading global experts to develop action plan to control dengue in the wake of a global pandemic that has hit countries from Far East Asia to South Asia. The disease is fast spreading from tropical regions into the sub tropical regions of the world. Dengue cases have seen a dramatic rise in many countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka Bangladesh and others over the past three years.

Usman Buzdar welcomed the foreign experts and assured all out efforts from the Punjab government. He said that the government was aware about its responsibility and acting accordingly to cope with challenges.

“More than 20000 dengue cases surfaced in Punjab in 2011 with 350 deaths. Dengue again surfaced in 2019 and Rawalpindi was the worst-hit district. I was very much aggrieved over the loss of lives due to dengue,” he said, adding, the government launched an organized and successful anti-dengue campaign. He praised the health minister and related staff for dedicated efforts to make the drive a success.

Punjab has hired 6,000 workers to control epedimic

He said that political leadership was duty-bound to provide moral, financial and administrative support for the health and safety of citizens while the departments were responsible to ensure implementation of the devised plan. “The government is devising concrete strategy to resolve the issue once for all instead of continuing the routine exercise”, he said. He also praised elected representatives, civil society and media for raising awareness about preventive measures against dengue. He hoped that the moot would prove a game-changer in the efforts for eradication of dengue.

“Punjab will prepare its 10-year dengue strategy in light of the review and discussion by local and international experts,” said Minister Health Dr Yasmin Rashid. “Experts from the academia, including virologists, epidemiologists, public health as well as researchers have been invited from across the regions to discuss and share experiences. They will review the existing strategies and if needed, revise SOPs related to case detection, diagnosis, clinical managements, treatment, surveillance and social mobilization related to dengue”, she said.

The Minister said that Punjab has hired over 6000 dengue workers and the department has been strenuously working on cities hit hard by the epidemic. Punjab in the last low season has seen a decrease in cases by the efforts of the team led by Secretary PSH Captain (retd) Usman Younas. She further said that the conference would help put together strategies that would not only be helpful for Pakistan, but also for other countries of the region.

Secretary Health presented the documentary on dengue and briefed about its journey in Punjab. He said that dengue gripped Pakistan with an unprecedented intensity and magnitude never encountered by the country before in the last quarter of 2011. He said that around 600,000 suspect cases with 22,000 lab-confirmed cases and more than 350 lives lost to this deadly virus. In this adverse time, medical experts of the country took the challenge head-on. He said that Dengue Expert Advisory Group (DEAG) was formed for the provision of advanced clinical advice for management of difficult cases, development of national guidelines and capacity building for medical and paramedical staff. He further said that the next spike came in 2015 when 4213 patients were confirmed in the province but with very less mortality. In the earlier part of 2019 there was a likelihood of an epidemic in the province in the coming few months and soon after Rawalpindi was hit by a major epidemic with also a considerable number of patients being reported from Lahore, Faisalabad and a few other districts.

Earlier, musical show and cultural performances highlighting the bright side of Pakistan were presented for the audience.

Advisor to Chief Minister on Health Hanif Khan Pitafi, Special Secretary PSH Ajmal Bhatti, Special Secretary SHME Nadir Chatha, Secretary Health Balochistan Mudassar Waheed Malik, Additional Secretary (Technical) PSH Dr Asim Altaf, Secretary Labor Sara Aslam, Program Managers, WHO and UNICEF representatives and experts on dengue in Punjab were also present.