Dengue Epidemic: Health Minister downplays ‘national emergency’

  • September 19, 2019

The government has denied the request made by lawmakers to address the dengue epidemic as a ‘National emergency’, saying the situation is not serious enough to ‘worry about’ and is under control.

Addressing questions by lawmakers in the House of Representative yesterday (Wednesday), Deputy Prime Minister and Health and Population Minister Upendra Yadav said that the rate of dengue infection was declining by the day, thus there was no need to declare a National Emergency.

“The dengue infection rate is under control. There is no need to announce an emergency. Its infection rate is decreasing.” Yadav told the House. He further said that dengue is a global problem because of ‘unavailability of medicines and prevention vaccines’. According to him, searching larvaes and destroying them is the only way dengue epidemic can be prevented.

He informed that the ministry has already provided Rs 60 million to local levels across the country to launch ‘search and destroy campaigns’ to control the situation, adding that he found the number of patients were decreasing in the hospitals while visiting there.

Doctors however disagree as victims of the outbreak are still being reported to be increasing in hospitals.

In Bhaktapur alone, 197 people have been diagnosed with the infection in the past two weeks. The number is confirmed by District Public Health Office, Bhaktapur’s officer Parthamani Neupane.

Similarly, Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun, a virologist at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku, said the Minister’s claim of dengue infected patients decreasing were false. The flow of patients is still increasing, he said.

Lawmakers from both ruling and main opposition parties criticized Minister Yadav for the department’s failure to contain the outbreak on time, thus resulting into the situation.

At least 56 districts across the country, including hilly regions, have reported dengue infection, killing at least seven people. Nearly 9000 people have been hospitalized.

Minister Yadav was also criticised for his international trip at a time when the nation is floundering with dengue epidemic. He left the country for the United States of America on Wednesday evening.