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Editorial: Swing into action

Editorial: Swing into action

The number of dengue infections is rising across Nepal. According to the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) report published on June 18, a total of 1,241 people have contracted the mosquito-borne disease since January this year. Dengue has been detected in 72 districts, with Mustang, Dolpa, Mugu, Humla, and Jumla being the only districts free of reported cases. Despite this, the threat of the disease spreading further looms large.

Health experts have warned that the current situation is a pre-outbreak phase, posing a high risk of a nationwide dengue outbreak. The EDCD data highlights the prevalence of cases across various districts: 141 in Kathmandu, 112 in Jhapa, 75 in Chitwan, 59 in Makwanpur, 47 in Doti, 46 in Tanahu, 44 in Sindhupalchok, 41 in Okhaldhunga, 28 in Rupandehi, 27 in Bhaktapur, and 18 in Lalitpur. Bagmati province has reported the highest number of cases, with 428 infections so far this year.

Historically, August, September, and October see the highest number of dengue cases in Nepal. With infections already on the rise, we can expect a significant increase in the coming months. This underscores the urgent need for the government to implement a comprehensive action plan to combat the dengue epidemic.

The government must immediately launch a "search and destroy" campaign along with other preventive measures to control the spread of dengue. Effective coordination among the three tiers of government is crucial to curb the infection. Since there is no specific medicine to cure dengue, prevention remains the best strategy. Wearing long-sleeved clothes and maintaining cleanliness are essential preventive measures.

Local governments, responsible for controlling communicable diseases and raising awareness in their communities, must act swiftly to eliminate conditions conducive to the rapid growth of mosquitoes and larvae. The only recommended treatment for dengue-related high fever and headaches is paracetamol. Given Nepal's past issues with paracetamol shortages, the government must ensure an adequate supply of this essential medication.

An uncontrolled dengue outbreak could overwhelm Nepal's already fragile health infrastructure and potentially claim hundreds of lives. Immediate and decisive action is needed to prevent this looming public health crisis. The time to act is now.