The Minister Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu told the National Assembly yesterday that the government is working on effective measures to contain the disease. noting that the new plan of action is ready for launching.
This follows reports of more people being hospitalized because of the disease as reports of casualties make headlines. Prominent businessman Abbas Tarimba is currently grieving after revealing that he has lost two adult children to the disease in the last four months.
Minister Mwalimu’s revelation of the new plan comes after Ilala MP Mussa Hassan Zungu sought to know what the government was doing to contain the disease. Specifically, the lawmaker asked why mass fumigation was not being undertaken in areas where the disease is prevalent.
“We have deployed a team of experts tasked to destroy the mosquitoes that spread the disease but as things stand, it is apparent that the vectors are resistant to the repellents,” she said.
A number of repellants are being used in the exercise with the view to finding the most effective that can be adopted for mass use in affected areas. The only way to contain the disease is to come up with a way to kill female mosquito Aedes aegypti that spreads the disease plus destroying its breeding grounds, the minister noted.
The mosquito becomes a carrier when it takes the blood of a person infected with the virus. After about one week, the mosquito can then transmit the dengue virus when biting a non-affected person.
In the recent outbreak in April, two people were confirmed dead from dengue fever, with 1,222 diagnosed with the fever in Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Singida regions. But the figures could be conservative as no updated figures were available on later reported cases and casualties.
The Deputy Minister for Health, Dr Faustine Ndugulile said recently that the number of dengue patients rose from 307 diagnosed cases by April 12 to 1,222 cases recorded by May 3.
Dar es Salaam was leading with 1,145 dengue patients, followed by Tanga with 76 patients and Singida with just one registered patient.
The worst dengue outbreak in Tanzania was in 2014 when more than 400 patients in Dar es Salaam were diagnosed with the disease, which killed at least three, including a doctor who caught it while attending to patients.
Dengue fever is said to affect about 390 million people in the world every year, and is particularly prevalent on the East African coast.
In the aftermath of the last outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global alert on the rise of vector-borne diseases, urging travellers to take precautions.
As there is no curative drug or vaccine for dengue, health experts recommend measures preventing mosquito bites and effective palliative care like infusion of fluids and using painkillers.