Most of the good that seemed to have been done in the past decade, one by one is coming undone. And while one can ignore most steps taken back, no one in this country has the luxury of taking lightly or allowing steps taken back in measures that can directly lead to loss of lives.
It was during the tenure of the PML-N that the menace of dengue first reared its ugly head in Punjab. As it was a new phenomenon, it quickly spread with people not knowing how to curb its spread or how to deal with early symptoms. The government in the province at the time led by then chief minister Shahbaz Sharif quickly sprang into action and enforced emergency protocols to solve the problem. Awareness campaigns were advocated nationwide, while extra resources were made available to hospitals to cope with the increasing number of patients. A fumigation drive was held across the province while experts from countries that had already suffered from and dealt with dengue, such as Sri Lanka, were called upon to evaluate and advice the government on how to better lead its efforts against the disease.
The efforts were so expertly coordinated, with annual follow ups and fumigation drives held before dengue season, that not since that initial deadly outbreak has the disease rum rampant across the country. Not since, that is, until now.
The lack of coordination between local health authorities and the district administration in Lahore is the main cause of dengue’s surge
Back then Imran Khan, as he has done with virtually every issue that has ever arisen in this country, dug deep into his bag of personal vindictive politics and started attacking the ruling party, blaming them for a disease that has plagued many countries before Pakistan. Such was the level of his hate and vitriol that he started referring to the Sharif brothers as Dengue brathran, paying no heed to how deadly a situation the country was faced with, and with zero effort on his part to actually help the effort to fight Dengue. Seems to be on par for the course for our mad king.
It was this naked hatred of all things Sharif that led the present Punjab government to not follow the protocols laid down by the PMLN to ensure that dengue does not rear its ugly head every year. And what happened due to this reckless and jealous behavior on part of the current government, dengue returned with a vengeance. As has become the hallmark of this selected government, they were caught completely unaware by the outbreak. So far in the country, around 25,000 cases of dengue have been diagnosed, with 80% of Lahore having been declared a red zone due to the presence of larvae.
The lack of coordination between local health authorities and the district administration in Lahore is the main cause of dengue’s surge. There were no specified arrangements made by the administration to test and treat dengue patients, allowing private laboratories to take full advantage of the situation. People who were diagnosed with dengue were charged around Rs1,500 to Rs2,000 per test
Patients had to get themselves tested at least five to seven times, which was financially beyond the reach of poor patients. In the past, private laboratories were bound to conduct the dengue test at Rs90, but the current regime did not take a similar measure this time around.
It is either incompetence or it is willful neglect. Maybe its even outright hatred of all things done by the PMLN during its tenure and the PM deciding he will happily cut off his nose to spite his face. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that due to this governments inept and incompetent handling of the monsoon season this year, lives have been lost, lives continue to be lost. It seems the message being sent out by the PTI is only too clear. If the economic downturn does not get you, if you somehow manage to outlive and survive the galloping inflation, if you find some way to out maneuver this government’s nonstop attempts to worsen your lives, then the mosquito might just finish what this government fails to do to you.
The writer tweets at @maizahameed and can be reached at email@example.com