Thursday, March 22, 2018 | ePaper

Chikunguniya continues to cheat our City Mayors

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THIS year's outbreak of Chikunguniya fever a couple of months ago in the capital and other places around the country has been one unprecedented endemic. Caused by mosquito bites the symptoms of this fever includes headache, fever and joint pain - much like dengue fever - and infected persons usually recover, although the post-recovery impacts linger for weeks and months. Never before so many citizens of Dhaka was inflicted by such a painfully enduring health disease in the recent past. At least one from almost all families somehow caught and had to suffer from it. Rather apprehensively it has not stopped as yet, though the number of the fever's victims has reduced. However, it is now moving to the rural side.
What surprises us, however, except a few sporadic TV and Newspaper campaigns in a few selective places there is still no sense of urgency on preventing this viral disease among the concerned authorities. Though the fever has been identified as non-fatal but that doesn't leave any room for not taking preventive measures. So far a total of 23 areas in Dhaka city has recently been identified as most risky for spreading Chikunguniya disease. Apart from removing the threats from the selected areas we expect the two Municipal City Corporations to spread all forms of awareness campaigns to prevent its frequency. 

Currently, there is no commercial vaccine for it. However, researchers have reportedly developed the first vaccine for this fever. It is not any time soon that the vaccine will become easily accessible in Bangladesh. In terms of taking medication the doctors' suggest that there isn't much to do except taking commonly used life-saving drugs and ample amount of rest. But what we should collectively do is to ensure that our houses and localities are not any how breeding grounds of the mosquitoes containing the Chikunguniya virus.

That said - breeding grounds for the Chikunguniya mosquitoes were being prepared from the onset of pre-monsoon rainfall. Indiscriminate deposits of water here and there had caused fast breeding, and now at the peak of the monsoon it is recurring again. Of course we don't expect the North Dhaka City Mayor to go inside every house for hanging mosquito nets - which he has reportedly said not possible for him - no City Mayor is expected to do so either, but he can surely execute his duties by disinfecting and keeping drains, ditches and pits clean. Not to forget lying on relatively low lands with huge lakes and more greenery it is his part of Dhaka which is more prone for breeding mosquitoes. Also more than just initiating the cleaning methods it is more important to monitor the progress round the clock. It is right there where the weaknesses for tackling the Chikunguniya menace have become visible. The Health Ministry has, perhaps, rightly put the burden on the 2 Mayors' shoulders for their utter failure to face the situation.   The relentless countrywide campaigning for informing and warning the public is missing too. 

Evidently, it will take active surveillance and close collaboration with Local Administrations to eliminate the hotspots. Mobilising the community to participate in sanitation campaigns holds the key, although families that live in deprived neighbourhoods will need generous municipal assistance, improved civic facilities and access to free health care. It's time the City Corporations focuses on these unaddressed issues.

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