LAHORE - The Punjab Health Department on Saturday launched large-scale public awareness campaign at a hefty cost of Rs 15 million as rapid increase was witnessed in dengue hemorrhagic fever patients across the province. After losing confidence in public sector hospitals, people were taking their near and dear ones to private healthcare centres for proper treatment. The situation is not different in the City where so far 106 dengue patients have reached the major public sector hospitals. The affected people contacting government dispensaries and private healthcare centres are far greater in number as compared to those taking treatment at the public sector hospitals. Death of Kanwal Sajid, 18, resident of Township, has sent ripple among Lahorites, who now prefer private healthcare centres for dengue fever treatment. The teenager was brought to emergency of Sheikh Zayed Hospital on September 28 and was shifted to medical ward on the same day. The unfortunate girl lost her life on October 13 at the medical ward. According to Sadiq Jatoi, uncle of the girl, the doctors continued to provide treatment for malaria without carrying out dengue tests. He said his niece was tested positive for dengue only few hours before her death. He said when tests were carried out it was too late. People visiting various public sector hospitals were complaining about delay in carrying out dengue tests and consequent hindrance in the start of treatment process. They said the only purpose of visiting public sector hospitals was to save money. Majority of them said it was more appropriate to visit private clinics but they had no money for the said purpose. The health department on Saturday launched large-scale campaign to create public awareness about dengue fever, its causes, symptoms and measures to avoid lethal disease. It displayed banners inscribed with precautionary measures to avoid dengue fever at important public places. The workers started distribution of handbills, pamphlets and brochures among people at prominent public places including Railway Station, Lorry Adda and parks. The department teams will visit public sector and private universities, colleges and schools and distribute brochures and deliver lecture to inform students about measures to avoid dengue infection. The teams will also go door to door to create awareness about dengue fever and precautionary measures. The officials counselled people to remove all stagnant water from flowerpots, old tyres, plastic bottles and other things lying unattended on the rooftops, ideal breeding places for dengue mosquitoes. According to the health department, Bacteriologist Punjab Laboratory has confirmed active dengue virus in 20 patients and inactive virus in 24 in the City on Saturday. No new dengue patient has been reported from any other city of the province. Bacteriologist Punjab Laboratory, Institute of Public Health has confirmed active dengue virus in blood samples of 09 patients from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, 01 from Mayo Hospital, 01 from Services Hospital, 01 from Nawaz Sharif Social Security Hospital, 02 samples referred from EDO Health Lahore while the remaining blood samples were referred from different private clinics.