With the number of dengue cases now surpassing the 30,000 mark in 2019, the blame for this unprecedented rise must be attributed to the incompetence of the government. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf’s (PTI) abject failure in providing any sort of counter is made all the more obvious if we take the 2011 dengue epidemic – the worst in Pakistan’s history until now – into account. The federal and provincial governments of the time stepped up and took effective action against the disease, something which is seriously lacking on this occasion.

The rains are no longer an excuse, with half of October now gone it is obvious that the government is just hoping that the weather becomes kinder sooner rather than later and provides the yearly antidote to mosquitos. In the midst of all of this, the Chief of Disease Surveillance at the National Institute of Health actually had the gall to imply the increased number of cases is due to the government’s efforts of surveillance; which if it were true, would have been reflected in a large number of deaths due to the disease in the preceding years.

Using surveillance to catch dengue cases at an early stage is simply not enough, nor is citing the high number of cases across the world. The government’s reaction has been lacklustre at best and this shows. The only saving grace is that previous years have taught both the public and the healthcare system a thing or two about the disease – compared to the 370 people that lost their lives in 2011, on 47 have succumbed to the disease so far, but the government cannot take the credit for this.

The only way to stop the menace of dengue is prevention and not treatment, and this is where the government and the public are failing completely. Removing waste and stagnant water around dwellings, and consistent fumigation on the streets – much like in 2011 – are the need of the hour. The government needs to do better.