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ISLAMABAD: Following an alarming increase of dengue cases countrywide which stood at 6,274, the federal government has started coordination with the federating units to effectively tackle the situation.

In this connection a high-level meeting on Friday was held under the chairmanship of the Caretaker Federal Minister for National Health Service and Regulations Dr Nadeem Jan, also attended by the provincial health departments. “An effective and coordinated strategy is being formed by the federation and the provinces for the prevention of dengue virus to protect people from diseases,” Health Minister Jan said.

Jan said, “We should develop integrated strategies for disease eradication in the context of lessons learned and experiences from the Covid-19 in the country. The Ministry of Health will ensure all possible support to control the infectious diseases in the country.” Federal and provincial governments should re-organise a comprehensive programme for the prevention of hepatitis, he said.

The meeting was informed that this year as of now, Balochistan has reported the highest number of dengue cases which stood at 2,627, followed by Punjab with 1,961, Sindh with 1,014, 438 cases in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and 234 cases in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

Significant attention was dedicated to the procurement of medications within the allocated budget. Further, discussions on budget allocation will take place during a scheduled meeting next week between the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Health Department leadership and the federal health minister.

On Hepatitis-C control, Dr Jan emphasized a joint strategic response with provinces and to launch National Hepatitis Control Programme in this year. Through this programme, diagnostic services and the availability of essential medicines to all Hepatitis-C patients will be ensured.

“Global Health Security agenda is the top-most priority of the Government of Pakistan. In this regard, for the first time in history, the government will host a global health security summit in November this year, in which leaders, top experts, and stakeholders from across the world will be invited. This is a matter of honour for Pakistani people and institutions and the summit will help Pakistan to finalise its strategic roadmap to tackle health emergencies and epidemics effectively in the country,” the health minister said.

Dr Jan said that the drug license issuance and laboratories across the country are being upgraded. “We are creating a comprehensive system based on uniform guidelines for the elimination and recovery of spurious medicines from the market. In this context, the DRAP will sign a joint MoU with all provincial governments,” said the minister. It was agreed in the meeting to ensure an uninterrupted supply of medicines and effective measures to deal with related challenges.

The Health Minister Punjab, Dr Javed Akram, said that a Dengue Expert Advisory Group is functional and has played a pivotal role in devising and implementing comprehensive strategies to combat dengue outbreaks. Also, the surveillance systems and community engagement initiatives have not only helped in the early detection of dengue cases but have also raised awareness about preventive measures among the public.

The Health Minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Dr Riaz Anwar, updated that dengue surveillance activities in the KP province have been diligently conducted to monitor and manage the spread of dengue disease. The province has implemented a comprehensive surveillance system to track dengue cases and identify potential outbreaks.

The Health Minister Sindh, Dr Saad Khalid Niaz, informed about the enhancement of entomological surveillance, laboratory networks, and the adoption of a multisectoral approach have proven instrumental in reducing the number of dengue cases. He also mentioned that the Local Government in the Sindh province has also constituted a Rapid Response Team (RRT) at the Union Council level for vector control measures.

Dr Jan stressed the need for joint efforts to ensure practical measures to keep the people of Pakistan safe from deadly diseases. All provincial health ministers and other stakeholders appreciated the efforts of the ministry of not only bringing all provinces, federating areas and stakeholders to the same table but also setting a comprehensive strategic direction through an inclusive consultative process. They committed that today’s meeting will become a starting point for an effective collaborative response to tackle dengue, Hepatitis-C, and other epidemics in the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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