The Financial Express

Dengue, Covid-19 crippling healthcare facilities

| Updated: July 31, 2021 16:49:43

A child receives treatment for dengue fever at Holy Family Hospital in Dhaka — Focus Bangla photo A child receives treatment for dengue fever at Holy Family Hospital in Dhaka — Focus Bangla photo

Resurgence of the dengue cases is causing serious trouble for the healthcare facilities, particularly in the capital city, as those are already fighting against the spike in Covid-19 in the country.

Unless the dengue situation is brought under control, the country's healthcare system might face a horrendous situation, experts warned.

Even a number of patients are being found simultaneously infected with both the deadly communicable diseases raising grave concern, they said.

The country's hospitals received 170 new dengue patients in a 24-hour period till Friday morning which was the second highest in a single-day of the year.

The country reported 194 cases on Thursday and 153 on Wednesday, according to data available with the Directorate General of Healthcare Services (DGHS).

With the latest cases, currently 709 patients are admitted to the hospitals mostly in the capital's private caregivers, while the total number of dengue patients hospitalised in the calendar year reached 2,462 so far.

The official statistics are prepared based on data provided by only 12 public and 29 private hospitals in Dhaka city and some other handful facilities across the country.

Experts fear that actual figure might be several times higher than that of official data as all dengue patients are not admitted to hospitals and many remain undiagnosed.

The viral disease claimed 164 lives officially reported in 2019, when the government reported 1,01,354 cases, which fortunately was limited to only 1,405 in the following year (2020).

The FE correspondent visited several healthcare facilities at the capital's Green Road and Shahbag to know about the extent of the mosquito-borne disease that is posing threat this year.

Considering the upward trend in dengue cases, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) has increased the number of beds in its dengue corner.

BSMMU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Md. Sharfuddin Ahmed last week said the hospital prepared a 26-bed dengue corner in the medicine unit and 12-bed dengue corner for minors in the children unit.

He laid emphasis on checking dengue through preventive measures like destroying the mosquito breeding ground and use of mosquito repellants.

Another hospital in the city has been stretched to its full capacity.

Talking to the FE, Director of Green Life Hospital Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Dr Abdur Rahman said they were receiving an increased number of dengue patients in the recent days, besides the Covid-19 patients, with its full capacity amid a surge in cases.

"We cannot say the patients are a burden for us, but it is becoming a tough job to handle the situation," he said.

The physician also said there is no alternative to follow health and hygiene guidelines to help contain the spread of mosquito-borne disease.

Remembering the experience of 2019, when the dengue broke out at epidemic level, he said they admitted 92 patients in a single day.

"Mass people should be aware and follow instructions as the government alone cannot control such communicable disease," he said.

Observing the situation, some experts said the official figures involving dengue were much less than the original ones.

Contacted, Dr. M. H. Chowdhury Lelin, a public health expert, said the country's people are already severely distressed with Covid-19, while the dengue situation is not getting adequate attention.

Unfortunately, some patients infected with either Covid-19 or dengue are getting infected with the other communicable disease after getting admitted to the hospitals, he said explaining the situation.

"We found a number of examples of a patient getting infected with dengue at the stage of recovery from Covid-19," he said, adding that the actual extent of the dengue situation remains unknown due to data unavailability with the government.

"The figures we are discussing is actually the tip of the iceberg," he said, assuming that the actual figure could be 10-12 times higher as many patients are not admitted to hospitals for treatment.

Along with the government, citizens should also take necessary measures to destroy the breeding ground of Aedes mosquitoes.

"We cannot imagine how horrific a situation is awaiting us, If we cannot contain the spread of mosquito menace through required steps," said the expert.

Regarding the dengue outbreak, DGHS director (disease control) Prof Dr Md Nazmul Islam recently in a media briefing said everyone should be aware and check the mosquito breeding ground like stagnant water in households and construction sites.

He also suggested conducting a dengue test along with Covid-19 test when required.

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