PESHAWAR -  The slow response of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to prevent dengue fever from spreading further, the compensation package announced by the federal government for victims of the virus and the Punjab government’s offer to help KP in elimination of the menace remained talk of the town on Saturday.

Criticism against the provincial government, KP health department and Peshawar district authorities was witnessed in the city in general and dengue-affected areas in particular. No one was ready to spare concerned quarters for failing to take timely action against the fatal disease, leaving at least six dead so far, and hundreds of others diagnosed positive.

The first dengue case surfaced in the provincial metropolis on July 22; since then, no directives were issued to the concerned quarters for taking timely action aimed containing prevalence of the viral disease. However, on Friday, KP Health Minister Shehram Khan Tarakai ordered provision of free test facilities at public-sector hospitals for diagnosing dengue fever. Locals said that the announcement followed the offer made by Punjab government to help KP government in overcoming the epidemic.

Mohallah Charanda and Daudzai at Tehkal Payan, Peshtakhara Bala and Warsak Road are among the most affected areas. According to official statistic, since July, over 5,000 people have been diagnosed infected with dengue virus in the mentioned areas.

Though dengue fever has set alarm bells, the provincial government has yet to react accordingly, as there is need to facilitate patients at their nearest health facilities, as well as starting fumigation in the entire city to prevent further spreading of the fatal mosquito-borne disease and launching a massive public-awareness drive.

Also, taking note of the situation, Peshawar High Court (PHC) summoned DC Peshawar and secretary health in a writ petition against the government for not taking effective steps against the outburst of the deadly disease. The court directed the concerned officials to appear on August 22 to explain what measures had been taken to tackle the situation.

A day before, in Tehkal, the most affected locality, locals staged a protest demonstration against the PTI-led provincial government and the party leaders. They said that the epidemic had caused several deaths, while hundreds of others were hospitalised, but the KP government and health department was yet to wake up.

The alleged negligence of the KP government in controlling dengue prompted Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to announce extending cooperation to the provincial government in handling the outbreak of the virus.

In this regard, Sharif directed Punjab health minister to approach the KP government and help its departments in overcoming the situation. In his message on social media, CM Shahbaz said that “People living in KP are our brethren and we are ready to extend all-out support to them to effectively deal with dengue disease. We will be happy to provide support to our brothers there”.  Peshawar residents welcomed the offer, however; KP government is yet to respond to it.

As the situation is getting to alarming levels, it is believed that the KP government might accept the offer as a good gesture by setting aside political differences and working together for a noble cause.

To assist the families that lost their near and dear ones to the fatal virus, the federal government announced giving them Rs200,000 as compensation.

Amir Muqam, who made the announcement, said that Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif had assured him of sending teams to control the outbreak in the provincial capital. Muqam also lashed out at the PTI government for its failure to properly handle the dengue outburst.