Dengue suspected of killing at least 17 people in Karachi in latest outbreak

Dengue suspected of killing at least 17 people in Karachi in latest outbreak
Patients suffering from dengue fever rest on beds under nets as they are treated at a government hospital in Karachi, Sindh-Pakistan on October 10, 2019. (AFP/File)
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Updated 12 September 2022

Dengue suspected of killing at least 17 people in Karachi in latest outbreak

Dengue suspected of killing at least 17 people in Karachi in latest outbreak
  • Doctors in the city say official figures on the disease were vastly underreported
  • 3,157 suspected with dengue being treated at various medical facilities since year's start

KARACHI: Dengue, a mosquito-borne disease, has killed at least 17 people in southern Pakistan’s densely populated Karachi city and made thousands of others sick, doctors said on Monday, while pointing out official figures related to the disease were vastly underreported. 

According to the data released by the provincial health department Monday morning, dengue had killed two people in Karachi division since January 2022 while 3,157 patients suffering from the disease had been treated at various medical facilities since the beginning of the year.  

The report added 107 dengue patients were admitted to hospitals on September 10, adding that 950 others were diagnosed with the disease in the first ten days of the month.   

However, the Sindh health department added seven more deaths in the revised data sheet issued Monday evening, which its spokesperson said had occurred at the privately-run Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH).  

But data obtained from private sector hospitals suggested that official numbers were not accurate. 

“At least three people have died in Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) since May 1, and all of them were brought to the hospital in critical condition,” Anjum Rizvi, a hospital spokesperson, told Arab News. “LNH has treated 1,046 dengue patients during this period.” 

Rizvi said private hospitals in the city were receiving fewer patients of the disease than public health facilities due to the affordability issue, though the numbers were still “on the rise.” 

Fawad Rashid, spokesperson of the Indus Hospital, said two dengue patients had died since August 1 while 94 others had been treated for the disease during this period. 

Last week, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and philanthropist, Hunaid Lakhani, died from dengue fever at the South City Hospital of the city. 

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper also reported 11 dengue-related deaths at AKUH in the last six months. 

“Not all of those reported dead were counted by the government. We are meeting them on Tuesday to sort this out,” Dr. Faisal Mehmood, head of infectious diseases at AKUH, told Arab News, when asked about reports of 11 deaths from the disease at the hospital. 

Dr. Saqib Hussain Ansari, a hematologist at Children’s Hospital Karachi, also said his health facilities had admitted 60 dengue patients. 

“We are treating about 10 patients daily in the OPD while admitting an average of four,” he said. “At least, two patients per day are also sent to the intensive care unit.” 

Dengue cases have surged in Sindh due to the recent monsoon rains and floods, though official figures show that only six people were diagnosed with the disease in 23 districts of five divisions in Sindh, excluding Karachi. 

Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Foundation, however, said that dengue was spreading in flood-affected areas. 

“The health minister has issued directives on my request today to establish camps at the district and divisional headquarters to test and treat dengue patients,” he told Arab News. 

The spokesperson of the health department, Mehar Khursheed, said the provincial authorities had asked for “better coordination and data transfers from all public and private labs and hospitals to get better clarification on the dengue situation in every district.” 

“At the moment, there are rising cases of dengue across the province due to flood water,” she said, adding the Sindh government was trying to deal with the situation by using fumigation and other techniques. 

While officials at public hospitals said there were no fatalities from the disease, they acknowledged that the number of patients was increasing. 

“The number of dengue patients has been increasing since September,” Dr. Yahya Tunio, spokesperson of the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center, told Arab News while adding that 79 people suffering from the disease had been admitted at the medical facility since August 1. 

Dr. Omar Sultan, another doctor at the same medical facility, said over 100 dengue patients had been visiting the OPD on a daily basis for check-up. 

Dr. Nasrullah Memon, medical superintendent of the Civil Hospital, said 1,700 patients had been admitted and treated at the second largest government hospital of Sindh since August. 

“Accurate and complete data provide us the real picture of a problem,” he said, adding it was vital to meticulously compile such statistics to systematically deal with any healthcare issue. 

“Without such data, we are blind,” he continued. “If we can’t see the problem, we won’t be able to solve it either.”