Dengue epidemic is now spreading at an alarming rate across the country. Around 30 people succumbed to it while 22,988 dengue cases have been detected so far. The mosquito-transmitted viral disease has emerged as a public health emergency at a time when the health care system has already stretched thin owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, health experts state that the treatment of dengue fever is cost-effective if it has been identified in time. But severe dengue is fatal as there is no specific medicine and treatment of it so prevention is the best option to avoid the dengue infection. WHO states that severe dengue causes serious illness and death but early detection of disease progression and access to proper medical support reduces fatality rates of severe dengue to below 1 per cent. Dengue that is found in tropical and sub-tropical climates globally has spread from the Terai plains to the hills and mountains in Nepal, which indicates that the vectors (Aedes aegypti mosquitoes) have adjusted to climates in higher altitude.
Those who were struck down by the dengue, recount that it causes more pain than COVID virus. However, as the dengue fever hit more and more people and spread in a proportion of epidemic, the health authorities and policy makers have to learn lesson from the devastation of coronavirus and pay proper to control the disease by breaking its chain. The dengue outbreak has not only put additional pressure to the country’s healthcare but also financial burden to the patients, especially the poor with no access to health facilities and proper information about the disease. More than 3,000 cases of dengue are being detected in a single day while the patients have overwhelmed hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley. According to the news report of this daily, the people, who have caught fever, have been left untested and untreated and suffered from the shortage of Paracetamol, the only medicine prescribed for treating dengue patients.
The dengue fever has not caught the country off guard. The experts have constantly been warning against the upsurge of dengue as the people were struggling to come out of the grip of COVID-19 pandemic. As the authorities failed to take timely preventive measures against dengue, the commoners are now bearing the brunt. When the state enforces dengue control measures, they are cost-effective but it costs dengue-affected persons, especially from the poor economic background expensively because they are never tested and compelled to purchase the over-the-counter medicines from the nearest pharmacies. They have to spend money on buying vitamins, painkillers or other drugs. The poor people often visit the government’s primary healthcare centres and private drug stores that lack the dengue test facility. As a result, they are misdiagnosed or left untested and untreated.
The clinically confirmed dengue fever cases are only reported to the concerned health bodies but untested cases are not reported and counted. This eludes the real scenario of dengue epidemic across the country. Now the authorities must prioritise to generating awareness of controlling mosquitoes while intensifying the drive to search and destroy the larvae in the mosquito-breeding sites. The public should also be aware of avoiding mosquito bites to keep dengue at bay. Likewise, the government should ensure that Paracetamol is easily available in the medical stores. It should also provide dengue test to the patients free of cost. Timely testing and treatment save life of people from this disease.