Dr Sania Nazir Chaudhry This is not the first time that the Punjab population has been attacked by the dengue mosquito. Last year, dengue had also struck. It returned again this year, stronger and resistant than before. But what was the federal and provincial administration doing meanwhile? There was one full year to plan a strategy to fight this disease. Since our governments do not believe in planning ahead for disasters, they were once again taken by surprise. Crucial time was wasted and a large numbers of the population were infected by the dengue virus, which could have been minimised by timely removal of excessive greenery following the monsoon rains, followed by timely fumigation of residential areas. If schools were closed earlier, a large number of patients could have escaped being infected. All public hospitals should have had advance instructions from the Health Ministry on how to combat this calamity. The Health Ministry should have ensured that government hospitals are sufficiently equipped to provide medical care to the inflow of dengue patients. The hospitals once again failed to provide adequate services to prevent unwanted casualties and suffering of dengue patients. The doctors were unable to deliver as the necessary resources were not available to them in time. The machinery that is being flown in from UK should have been here before the epidemic hit. The Sri Lankans should have been approached in the last twelve months since the dengue outbreak last year to provide input for a combat strategy. Dengue awareness and prevention campaigns should have been on air at the start of the dengue season. Strangely homeopathic businesses have encashed on this disaster as a business opportunity through television ads claiming to prevent and cure dengue while the entire Health Ministry has failed to encounter the disease. After the floods played havoc in 2010, all development funds were redirected towards reconstruction and rehabilitation through the disaster management agencies both at the provincial and the federal level. The taxpayers money is spent to sustain the costly perks and pays of an inefficient bureaucracy. The delayed relief response is a desperate effort and not a planned activity. The medical staff is generally held responsible for the non-provision of services whereas it is the jurisdiction and responsibility of the healthcare and disaster management departments to strategically manage the activity of the medical professionals and ensure that they have the resources and instructions well in time to provide medical services effectively. Medical doctors are not professional managers and it is not fair to expect this expertise from them as part of their job. In our healthcare set up it is the health secretariat of the Health Ministry which provides planning and resources to the healthcare delivery institutions and therefore the primary negligence rests with the people who advise, plan and provide the resources. Healthcare management is recognised as a speciality of the management discipline by the advanced nations who ensure that an efficient and effective healthcare service runs in the country. Every citizen and taxpayer of Pakistan has a right to know why political leaders select unqualified, untrained, incompetent, inefficient and irresponsible people as ministers, advisers, consultants to ministries, federal and provincial secretaries, and a host of other officials. This is not just a failure of the political leadership but also a failure of the selection and training procedures of the bureaucracy. Every year the national exchequer spends huge amounts on the selection and training of senior bureaucrats through prestigious institutions. Surely the public would like to know what they teach these officers if this is the end result. Winning elections does not give anyone the right to play with the lives of innocent people. The political leadership of this country must realize that management is a specialised profession and has sub-specialities within it. Only people who are educated and trained in these disciplines understand the intricacies of strategic management and should be entrusted with important positions. Our political leaders need to depoliticise these prime positions and stop the tradition of appointing their blue-eyed loyalists. Although brain drain has affected this nation, still the open market might be able to supply responsible strategic managers to the government. This also calls for an accountability of the Health Ministry and the National Disaster Management Authority officers who failed to provide a strategy to fight dengue and which resulted in the loss of life of several hundred citizens. The writer is a change management consultant. Email: drsaniachaudhry@gmail.com