THE government has intensified efforts in the fight against mosquito-transmitted dengue fever, which has so far diseased 1,901 people in the country.
According to the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, 1,901 people have been diagnosed with the fever since it was first reported in January, this year.
Chief Medical Officer Prof Muhammad Kambi told reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the government has extended diagnostic services in Dar es Salaam and Tanga regions by increasing the number of health facilities that are carrying out diagnostic tests from seven to 19.
He named public health facilities, which provide diagnostic services for dengue fever as Muhimbili National Hospital, Muhimbili Central Laboratory, Amana, Temeke, Mwananyamala, Sinza, Vijibweni, Mnazi Mmoja, Lugalo, Mbagala and FFU Ukonga in Dares Salaam. Others are Bombo and Ho rohoro in Tanga region, Tumbi, Mkuranga, Utete, Rufiji and Mafia, Morogoro and Manyara.
Prof Kambi noted that the government has also increased surveillance in other regions, which have not been hit by the viral disease. He further said the government has ordered more test kits with capable of diagnosing 30,000 patients.
The kits will arrive in the country soon and will be distributed to public hospitals in Dar es Salam and other regions.
Prof Kambi further said the ministry, in collaboration with regional and council authorities, is executing various measures, including development of an emergency plan, to contain the disease.
The authorities were also drafting the treatment guidelines, strengthening surveillance, educating the public and dispatching teams of experts to join forces with their Dar es Salaam counterparts to control the disease.
He, however, noted that dengue cases have increased in the past nine days with 674 new patients being diagnosed with the viral disease.
“This steep rise of new cases is due to increased public awareness, which has enabled people with the disease symptoms to go for diagnostic tests in health facilities,” said the country’s top medic.
He explained that Dar es Salaam region is leading with 1,809 patients, followed by Tanga’s 89 patients while Singida, Kilimanjaro and Coast regions have reported one case, each.
He said there is no specific treatment of the disease cautioning people who circulate misleading reports on dengue fever treatment through social media.
“So far, there is no specific treatment of the viral disease but treatments was given on associated symptoms like high fever and dehydration,” he said.
Dar es Salaam Regional Medical Officer Dr Y udas Ndungile said the regional authorities have taken various measures to fight the disease, citing destruction of mosquito breeding sites and public awareness about the disease particularly in the hard hit wards.
“We have also cooperated with the ministry of health to ensure that we obtain sufficient test kits for dengue fever…when the disease broke out, diagnostic tests were done mostly in private hospitals at between 70,000/- and 100,000/- but the cost dropped after the services were available in public health facilities,” he said.
He said the region also has strengthened monitoring and data collection system.
The RMO named some of the wards in Dar es Salaam, which have been seriously affected, with the number of their cases in brackets as Ilala (235), Sinza (223), Upanga (87), Kisutu (86), Kariakoo (79), Mbezi (78), Kimara (65), Msaki (56), Msasani (50), Wazo (49), Kinondoni (45), Mikocheni (40), Gerezani (40) and Tabata (41).
According to the health ministry, dengue fever was not new in the country for it was also reported in 2010, with 40 people affected.
The disease has also been detected in the neighbouring Mozambique and Kenya where 100 and 30 people, respectively, were affected.
The disease is caused by Aedes Egypt mosquito that bites in daylight and harboured in stagnant water.