Nazia Nazar The people in Pakistan, especially in Punjab, are living under the shadow of constant fear of dengue virus, which has affected more than 8,000 people with 40 deaths so far. The people in hospitals are seen carrying blood samples in utter confusion and fear. After Lahore, the dengue danger is creeping towards other cities of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Overcrowding of dengue patients in hospitals is resulting in the denial of admission to patients of other diseases. In many hospitals, old patients suffering from other diseases are being discharged forcibly to accommodate the dengue patients. Punjab was not prepared for such an epidemic-like disease to strike. Civic bodies at all levels used to effectively fight any viral epidemic with periodic sprays of insecticides and monsoon used to be a special focus for them. But for decades the arrangement has not been in place. Before the breeding season of mosquitoes a public awareness campaign should have been launched and fumigation and insecticide sprays undertaken. The government waited until till large number of cases began to be reported. Sprays have been done in some areas of Lahore but yet a vast part of it remains untouched. It is sad to note that our politicians in this situation keep politicising the problem instead of pointing the flaws in policy and helping to correct them. Taking advantage of the situation, the 'profiteers in pharmaceutical industry have started overcharging for dengue-fighting medicines. It is pertinent to mention here that there is no cure for dengue except taking fever-reducing medicines or to transfuse platelets to the patient if platelets decline to a dangerous level. The prices of fever-reducing medicines went up several time, making it hard for the poor to purchase them. Moreover, there is a shortage of medicines in markets and the people are wandering on roads in search of them. On the other hand, the platelets transfusion kits, which are in great demand, have gone out of the reach of the common man. Apart from that, people have to spend the whole day in queues to get the desired kit while the patients need them urgently. Our heads should hang in shame to see the conduct of some Muslims soon after observing the holy month of Ramadan in indulging in such practices as fleecing the poor for essential drugs, despite the fact that Islam gives great importance to the virtues of honesty and fair conduct, and declares that saving one life is akin to saving the whole humanity. But in Pakistan human life is treated like a worthless entity, which could be sacrificed for a few pennies. To recapitulate, the situation is worsening day by day while the experts have warned that the mosquitoes would remain in full bloom during the next two months, which means the sufferings of people in Pakistan would increase in the days to come. So far the government has been unable to cope with the spreading challenge. One wonders why the government is unable to effectively cope with it. Can one hope that our rulers strategy to combat the disease will start bearing fruit soon? It is imperative for all the provincial governments to ensure that they keep providing civic facilities of cleanliness, sanitation, epidemic control and take a host of other measures for the community health even if local governments are not in place. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: