Dengue fever patients on the veranda of state-run Suhrawardi Medical College Hospital in the capital, Dhaka, on Aug. 1 amid a major nationwide outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease. (Photo by Stephan Uttom/ucanews.com)
Bangladesh is struggling to contain an outbreak of dengue fever with the government admitting that 14 people have already died from the disease and that more than 15,000 patients had been hospitalized.
However, Prothom Alo, Bangladesh's largest circulation Bengali language daily newspaper, reported July 31 that there had been at least 50 fatalities.
Media reports suggested that the capital, Dhaka, accounted for over 70 percent of dengue infections.
Ucanews.com reporters found that medical staff at major Dhaka hospitals had been swamped by patients needing care.
Social media outlets are carrying pleas for members of the public to donate blood to assist treatment efforts.
The Bangladesh Health ministry said that the disease had spread to 62 out of a total 64 districts in the nation.
Dr. Edward Pallab Rozario, secretary of the Association of Bangladesh Catholic Doctors, said appalling negligence by government health agencies and inadequate preventive measures by city officials were major reasons for the current crisis.
"There is always a risk of dengue outbreaks in a densely populated country like Bangladesh during the monsoon, especially in unplanned and congested cities like Dhaka,” he said.
State bodies failed to ensure sufficient preventative measures and "ridiculously" ignored warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO), added Rozario, who is head of Health Projects at the Catholic charity Caritas Bangladesh.
Caritas had already been pursuing a dengue awareness campaign through its regional offices with help from parish priests.
Dr. Sanya Tahmina, director of disease control at the state-run Directorate General of Health, maintained that dengue warnings were issued, but infections had spread very rapidly.
The government has sent out dengue test kits to every district and asked state-run hospitals to offer treatment to dengue patients at a token cost, she said.
Several hospitals had started providing free blood-based treatments to those who were most seriously ill, Tahmina added.
Meanwhile, Rozario argued that the current outbreak should serve as a lesson for the future.
Dengue fever is a vector-borne tropical disease carried by female aedes mosquitoes.
Usually, patients show symptoms — such as high fever, headache, vomiting and muscle and joint pains as well as skin rashes — two to three weeks after being bitten.
Dengue can be deadly if it develops into hemorrhagic fever, WHO experts warn, adding that an estimated 390 million people are infected annually with the disease.
The same female mosquitoes transmit other serious diseases, including Chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika.
For more see this ucanews.com video report: