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Bangladesh grapples with deadly dengue outbreak

At least 150 people died and 39,000 were infected by dengue fever this year
People comfort their children suffering from dengue fever at a government hospital in Dhaka on Oct. 19

People comfort their children suffering from dengue fever at a government hospital in Dhaka on Oct. 19. (Photo: AFP) 

Published: November 02, 2022 10:09 AM GMT
Updated: November 02, 2022 12:07 PM GMT

Bangladesh is grappling with a fatal outbreak of dengue with hundreds of daily infections while people and experts blame the government for a lack of action and priorities to contain the menace.

As of Nov. 1 total of 150 people have died and some 39,000 have been infected, according to data from the state-run Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). Some 86 people died in October alone.

The DGHS website states that at least seven dengue patients died and 983 people were admitted to hospitals across the country in the last 24 hours.

Experts have termed 2022 as the second-worst year for the dengue outbreak in the country’s history. In 2019, some 179 people died, and about 101,354 people were infected, making it the worst year.  

The majority of dengue cases have been reported in the densely populated capital Dhaka, home to about 22 million people in a metropolitan area of about 300 square kilometers. World Population Review ranked Dhaka as the sixth most populous city this year.

A survey by DGHS in August found that Aedes mosquitoes, the transmitter of the dengue virus, were found in 13.4 percent of houses under Dhaka North City Corporation and 11.75 percent of houses under Dhaka South City Corporation.

Kanak Biswas, 44, a Catholic banker and resident of the Mirpur area of Dhaka, blamed government negligence for the outbreak.

“Every year, during the dengue outbreak, the government becomes serious and takes various programs including spaying of insecticide. But if the measures are taken in advance, dengue could not have spread like this,” Biswas, a father of three, told UCA News.

Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness, occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

The risk of dengue transmission in Bangladesh is year-round, but it is highest during the monsoon season (April-September).

Sujan Ahmad, 39, a medical doctor at a private hospital in Dhaka, is still grieving the loss of his four-year-old son to dengue fever two weeks ago.

“I could not save my son despite being a doctor, there is no greater failure in my life, nor will there ever be. But I want to blame the government for this. Because, if the city corporations had performed their duties properly throughout the year, dengue would not have spread like this,” Ahmad told UCA News.

Government officials countered allegations of negligence and inaction by blaming untimely rainfall due to climate change as the reason for the increase in dengue-spreading mosquitoes.

“We are working to make the citizens aware,” Atiqul Islam, Mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation told reporters while adding that city councilors have been asked to pay visits to their areas, take pictures of spots where Aedes larvae are found, and share them on the DNCC WhatsApp group, so the concerned department can take immediate action.

Selim Reza, chief executive officer of DNCC told UCA News that the Aedes larvae are breeding in under-construction buildings and rooftop gardens.

"We are trying our best to make the public aware and eradicate the Aedes mosquitoes,” Reza added.

Edward Pallab Rozario, health manager at Caritas said the Catholic charity and the Association of Catholic Doctors in various parts of Bangladesh have been actively working to prevent the further spread of dengue.

“Our health centers are making people aware about the use of mosquito nets, wearing long clothes, seeking medical advice quickly in case of fever, etc,” Rozario told UCA News.

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