November 1, 2023
DHAKA – The government failed to effectively control Aedes mosquitoes, instead they are shifting blame on the country’s people and imposing unethical fines on households, said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, at a press conference yesterday.
He said this while unveiling a study report at its office. TIB conducted the study on the dengue outbreak from September 25 to October 25.
Iftekharuzzaman said it is unfortunate that the dengue issue did not get both the political and administrative importance it deserved.
He mentioned that despite clear signs of increasing cases this year, the government lacked a well-defined strategy for mosquito control and often took sporadic and superficial actions.
He said the WHO’s specific guidelines and strategies for conducting mosquito-control activities were not adhered to. He also observed that government organisations responsible for these tasks displayed a lacklustre performance and, in some instances, avoided taking responsibility altogether.
He emphasised the importance of involving experts with relevant knowledge in this field, pointing out that there were no efforts to engage such professionals.
Bangladesh ranked third worldwide in the number of dengue cases, but it held the top position for the highest death rate until October 22 this year, the study finds.
The total number of dengue cases this year till October 22 is 25,69,746 in Brazil, 2,57,089 in Peru, 2,40,097 in Bangladesh, 1,50,140 in Mexico, 1,40246 in Bolivia, 1,23,093 in Argentina, 1,03002 in Nicaragua and 94,198 in India.
Meanwhile, the death rate in Bangladesh was 0.5 percent, 0.04 percent in Brazil, 0.4 percent in Philippines and 0.1 percent in India.
TIB highlighted several reasons for the high death rate, such as insufficient hospital manpower in comparison to patient numbers, delayed virus diagnosis, false negatives in NS1 tests, a lack of dengue prevention and control efforts, and inadequate medical facilities outside of Dhaka.
According to the TIB findings, the treatment costs had increased 10 times higher due to a lack of facilities in government hospitals.
A dengue patient has to spend Tk 7,142 per day on an average in government hospitals while it is Tk 70,000-80,000 in private hospitals, it added.
TIB also found despite Dhaka city corporations spending Tk 1,080 crore over the past 11 years, they were unable to effectively control mosquitoes due to their failure to apply insecticides in field levels following WHO guidelines, take effective measures to eliminate Aedes mosquito breeding sites between January and April, and conduct door-to-door Aedes mosquito control efforts.
TIB identified negligence in assessing the efficacy of insecticides in various city corporations and municipalities, as well as disparities in providing resources and funding for mosquito control activities.
TIB put forth a 21-point recommendations, which involve creating a National Integrated Vector Management Plan that encompasses input from experts and stakeholders, recognising dengue as a national health concern deserving political and governmental attention.
Dr Razia Sultana, search fellow and Md Julkarnayeen, senior research fellow of TIB, presented the report.