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Editorial: Control dengue, save lives

Editorial: Control dengue, save lives

Dengue is a viral infection caused by the dengue virus (DENV) and transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes, according to the World Health Organization. Half of the world's population is now at risk of dengue with an estimated 100–400m infections occurring each year. Dengue is found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas. While many DENV infections are asymptomatic or produce only mild illness, DENV can occasionally cause more severe cases, and even death, per the United Nations health agency. 

In Nepal, dengue has emerged as a public health crisis. It has already spread in 76 districts infecting around 40,000 people so far this year and leaving many people dead. Hundreds of dengue infections in a day point at the gravity of the crisis. Favorable climatic conditions from the southern plains to the hills to even the Himalayan region have definitely contributed to this spread, apart from a general lack of awareness about the disease. Water stagnated in tyres, flower pots, air conditioning equipment, buckets, drums and puddles can be a breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes that spread this disease through their bites. 

Preventive measures at household and community levels can go a long way in bringing dengue under control. This does not mean that local levels, provinces and the federal government should do nothing to address this health emergency. There’s a deepening feeling among the public that the governments–local, provincial and federal–have not been paying much attention to the outbreak because it does not afflict the ruling elites, given the health safeguards in place for them and easy availability of treatment. 

Through effective steps, the government should prove that this perception is wrong. 

This daily, through extensive reports, has tried to bring the attention of the government toward a public health delivery system that has become dysfunctional, by and large. At least in part, rising dengue infections are an indication of a disease afflicting this system. 

In turn, dengue is symptomatic of governance that has not been as effective as it should be in providing remedies for multiple ills plaguing Nepal and the Nepalis, from violation of national sovereignty to unabated corruption to rising market prices to increasing defense and security challenges. 

The challenges are formidable but they should not be insurmountable. Once again, the onus is on the government to take political parties, civil society, the people and other relevant actors into confidence and do whatever it takes to tide the country over the crises.