Dengue crisis worsens in Dhaka as Eid leave canceled

A child suffering from dengue fever rests at a hospital in Dhaka. (AFP)
Updated 14 August 2019

Dengue crisis worsens in Dhaka as Eid leave canceled

  • Nearly 46,000 patients have been admitted to hospitals across Bangladesh with the virus

DHAKA: Doctors and nurses in Dhaka are working to treat dengue patients after authorities canceled Eid leave for all medical staff on Wednesday.

Nearly 46,000 patients have been admitted to hospitals across Bangladesh with the virus.

In the past 24 hours, 1,880 new cases were admitted to hospital, while more than 4,000 are being treated in Dhaka alone. Death toll estimates, meanwhile, range from 40 to 90 people.

Dengue spreads among humans through its carrier, the aedes mosquito.

From July to September, during the monsoon season, it spreads rapidly as the mosquitos breed. 

The first recorded case of the disease in Bangladesh was in 1965, with the worst previous outbreak affecting the country in 2000.

The current outbreak started in Dhaka last July.

Several government hospitals have already added new dengue wards to accommodate patients but this has still proved inadequate.

“On Eid day, I rushed to the hospital after the Eid prayer and had a very busy day treating patients,” Prof. Syed Shafi Ahmed, director of the Dhaka Children’s Hospital, told Arab News.

“I fear that within next couple of days, again we will have a huge number of dengue victims when people return to Dhaka (from Eid vacations),” he added.

Many employees have had their personal Eid leave cancelled to deal with the outbreak.

“Usually we don’t perform any duties during Eid vacations. For the first time, I have been serving at my hospital for the well-being of the patients,” said Saleha Khatun, a senior nurse at the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.

“My four-year-old son Ayman got affected by fever just before the Eid day. I was worried about the treatment process and availability of doctors as it’s a vacation period,” Dhaka resident Prema Chowdhury said. 

“On Eid day morning I rushed to the hospital with my son and after immediate tests he was diagnosed with dengue. Doctors admitted him and after 2 days, my son is doing better.”

Doctors have warned people to be more cautious about taking other medicines if they are diagnosed with the disease.

“Any medicine like steroids or others may aggravate the impact of the dengue virus for any patient. In case of fever in this season, the best solution is to have enough water and liquid drinks like fruit juice,” Dr. Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research, told Arab News.

“At the moment Bangladesh is fully equipped to deal with dengue as we have already prepared a national guideline about the treatment process of patients. In Dhaka, which is the most affected city, around 2,000 doctors and nurses have already been trained to deal with it,” Dr. M. M. Aktaruzzaman, dengue program manager of Directorate General of Health, told Arab News.

Until last year, the highest number of dengue patients in a single year was recorded at around 10,000. 

But this year it is already close to 50,000, with half of the monsoon season still to come, worrying health professionals across the country.


US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with Taliban

Updated 07 December 2019

US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with Taliban

  • The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence
  • Permanent cease-fire would be the eventual goal, said a US statement

KABUL: US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held on Saturday the first official talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban since President Donald Trump declared a near-certain peace deal with the insurgents dead in September.
The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence, with a permanent cease-fire being the eventual goal, said a US statement. Khalilzad is also trying to lay the groundwork for negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict.
The meetings being held in the Middle eastern State of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, follow several days of talks in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, where Khalilzad met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
The Taliban have so far refused direct talks with Ghani calling him a US puppet.
Ghani leads the Afghan government with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in a power-sharing agreement brokered by the United States after the presidential elections in 2014 were so deeply mired in corruption that a clear winner could not be determined.
To head off a conflict Washington stepped in and forced the two leading candidates __ Ghani and Abdullah __ to share power in a so-called Unity Government that has been largely paralyzed because of the relentless bickering between the two leaders.
The Afghan government is now embroiled in a fresh elections standoff. Presidential polls on Sept. 28 again ended in accusations of misconduct and corruption, with no results yet announced.
Repeat leading contender Abdullah has challenged the recounting of several hundred thousand ballots, accusing his opponent Ghani of trying to manipulate the tally.
Meanwhile, Khalilzad’s return to his peace mission followed Trump’s surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to Afghanistan in which he said talks with the Taliban were back on.
While Khalilzad is talking to the Taliban about reducing violence, the US military in its daily report said overnight on Saturday US airstrikes killed 37 Taliban and operations by the Afghan National Security Forces killed another 22 of the militants.
The insurgents have continued to carry put near daily strikes against military outposts throughout the country. They now hold sway over nearly half of Afghanistan.
Trump has expressed frustration with America’s longest war repeatedly saying he wants to bring the estimated 12,000 US soldiers home and calling on Afghanistan’s own police and military to step up. The Afghan government has also been criticized for its relentless corruption.