Daily Times Editorial 2 Sep 2019

Strike of dengue fever


The season of monsoon is not without the breakouts of dengue and malaria. In Karachi, 235 people, of them 200 are Chinese nationals, have reportedly tested positive for dengue fever. According to Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pachuhu, all the patients of dengue came from a locality near Hawke’s Bay. This is going to be a sigh of relief that Sindh government’s vigilance has restricted the virus to one area, and as soon as the locality was specified, the Anti-Dengue Cell sprayed the affected area with mosquito-killing pesticides. A massive effort is required to prevent the outbreak of dengue fever in Pakistan, which remained a major concern for the government 2007 onwards. The fever has largely been contained with a big dose of awareness and education among the public about the measures to cull the virus. The drive has been a big success by the joint efforts of health departments, mosquito control squads, schools and the general public to help spread the simple message – no stagnant water, no dengue.
A dengue virus carrier suffers great pain, severe illness and even death, if not treated in time. The virus stems from the bite of an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito, which Pakistan has eliminated by targeting their breeding sites such as puddles and other places of standing water in and around homes and businesses. Dengue surveillance teams inspect every households to confirm there is no spot where standing water is found. The fact, however, is that these teams alone cannot eradicate dengue sites and the task requires the collective effort of the community.
The controllable mosquito keeps coming to strike the population again and again whenever room is provided to it. The main culprit giving a breathing space to the deadly virus is bad civic sense and bad sense of urbanisation. Unless these problems are solved, authorities will have to be vigilant. The best thing is killing mosquito larvae before they hatche into adults with spray.
The last month saw torrential rain across the country. Karachi made the headlines for the slow disposal of rainwater, which might have panicked the health authorities because of the increased prospects of mosquito breeding in the city. So far, 235 cases have been reported, which is far less than last year’s figure. According to the National Institute of Health in Islamabad, Sindh recorded 2,000 dengue and 10,000 malaria cases last year. Cvic authorities need to launch extra campaigns to eradicate the breeding grounds for vector-borne and waterborne diseases. *


Battery-powered bikes and rickshaws


Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry is never short of unique, workable ideas. After the lunch of his famous lunar calendar application, which helped the countrymen plan and celebrate Eidul Azha very well, and later commence Muharram without any controversy because of its unmatched accuracy, the maverick minister has now unveiled environment-friendly motorcycles and rickshaws, which will run on rechargeable batteries. The country, which has long been facing challenges on environment and fuel consumption fronts, will be able to conserve energy and make the environment safe if his plans are realised. He made a test ride of a battery-powered motorcycle and a rickshaw on the premises of the Pak­istan Council for Renewable Energy and Technologies. Even though mass transit is the mother of all transport-related solutions, life in a Pakistani city or town is hard to lead without a motorcycle and rickshaw. From errands to hard tasks like pick and drop of schoolchildren and so on, the usage of motorcycles and rickshaw is frequent and unavoidable. If Chaudhry wants to make a visible difference to environmental issues, he should ride a bicycle and make bicycle riding a popular trend. That will, however, require spreading awareness of traffic rules and making our roads bicycle-friendly.
Automobile experts call battery-operated vehicles the ultimate future of transport, and an apt way to minimise dependency on POL products. Pakistan, being one of the largest users of motorcycles and rickshaws in the world, will benefit a lot from electronic technology-driven transport, which will also help combat carbon emissions in the environment. In the last decade, Pakistan did wonderful experiments with modern transport modes, mostly in mass transit, in large cities like Lahore, Islamabad, Multan and now in Karachi. Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, many road networks have been completed. That is going to raise the standard of living as well as the economy.
So far as the ministry and science and technology’s initiative on renewable energy-powered transport is concerned, the ministry is not a manufacturing house. Its job is to provide such policies which help manufacturers, innovators, entrepreneurs and academicians to flourish scientific works, which have yet to gain roots in our parts of the world. Introducing and investing on imported, ready-to-implement ideas cannot be denied at this stage, but the ministry’s ultimate success should be to introduce the culture of research in science. Once the battery-powered ride is over, the minister should start working on making classrooms science learning friendly. *

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