Sunday, August 18, 2019

Official records show fewer than actual number of deaths from dengue in Dhaka

  • Obaidur Masum, Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-07-18 05:11:03 BdST

bdnews24
Children suffering from dengue at the Holy Family Hospital in Dhaka. Photo: Abdullah Al Momin

At least 19 people have died from dengue so far this year, a bdnews24.com investigation confirms, but the official records put the casualties only at five.

The authorities have cited a scrutiny to list such deaths so that an “exaggerated” account does not panic the people.

Until Wednesday, a total of 5,166 people have been diagnosed with dengue in Dhaka this year and 1,116 of these patients are currently being treated in hospitals, according to the Emergency Operation Centre and Control Room at the Directorate General of Health Services.

It recorded the death of a 53-year-old dengue patient at the BRB Hospital and a 32-year-old man at the Asgar Ali Hospital on Apr 29, an 11-year-old child at the Apollo Hospital on June 16, a 42-year old patient at the Ibn Sina Hospital on June 29 and another person, aged 42, at the Square Hospital on July 3.

But bdnews24.com has found 19 fatal dengue cases this year, including three at the Holy Family Red Crescent Medical College Hospital, three at the Universal Medical College Hospital at Mohakhali, two at the Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, two at the Shishu Hospital, three at the Square Hospital, and one each at the LabAid Hospital and Salahuddin Specialised Hospital.

Doctors and relatives said dengue has been identified as the cause of death in their death certificates.

The dead include a doctor, a doctor’s child who was hit by dengue thrice, a 7-year-old boy of a customs commissioner, three housewives, a lawyer’s child, and a nurse.

Dhaka South Mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokon had urged the media not to spread confusion a few days ago, saying some news publishers had put the toll at 11 though it had “actually been three'.

When bdnews24.com contacted him on Wednesday for comments on the findings, he said the authorities follow what the government’s Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research or IEDCR says.

“There can be some other cases. Our position about the deaths is very clear. It’s very unfortunate for us if even a single person dies,” he said.

“But it’s also my duty as mayor to stop people from being panicked,” he added.

Asked why the number of deaths listed by the IEDCR was so low, its Director Meerjady Sabrina Flora told bdnews24.com there can be anomalies as they publish the number after an exhaustive scrutiny.

The Institute even has a committee to review reports of such deaths.

“Maybe the cases you are talking about are still being reviewed,” she said.

They listed a July 3 death at the Square Hospital, but not a previous death on June 2 at the Universal.

Asked how a recent case was reviewed before a previous one, she said they were not trying to lower the figures.

“We have no reason to do so. We actually don’t want to say anything before getting confirmation, because it may trigger panic,” she added.

[Additional input by Chief Crimes Correspondent Liton Haider]