By Dr. K. Rajendra
I have been a Doctor working in Sri Lanka for more than 53 years. In the old days there were major epidemics of smallpox, malaria and polio. Despite not having all the facilities that the present generation has – like transport, communication and modern technology – these illnesses were totally eradicated. Fortunately, vaccines for smallpox and polio contributed greatly to eradicate these illnesses.
They did not have ‘Smallpox Week,’ ‘Malaria Week’ and ‘Polio Week’ once in two or three months to eradicate these illnesses. All steps were taken daily in all corners of the country to eradicate these illnesses.
I wish to request the WHO, the UN organisations, the Sri Lanka Government, the Ministry of Health, the Sri Lanka Medical Association and all the medical associations of this country including the GMOA to give the highest priority to find ways and means to eradicate dengue as soon as possible.
I wish to make the following points:
1. For the prevention of dengue, instead of having Dengue Week once in two or three months, please have ‘Dengue Day’ every day.
2. Early detection of dengue – Between 12 and 24 hours of any fever the dengue antigen test must be done. This will give a warning to the doctor, the patient and the family. The dengue antigen test is quite an expensive test ranging between Rs. 1,500 and Rs. 2,000 in the private sector. The private hospitals and laboratories must reduce this charge considerably to allow patients to get this test done. The Ministry of Health must provide all financial assistance to all Government hospitals and laboratories big or small to have facilities to do this test for every patient in this country when requested by the doctor. Most patients do not know about this test and the value of this test. Many patients do not realise until the third or fourth day that they are having dengue fever.
3. If the dengue antigen test is positive, a full blood count must be done every day from the second day for six days to give an idea of the seriousness of this illness and to help in the treatment.
4. All doctors in this country, I am sure, know how to treat dengue fever if they have the warning that the patient may suffer from all the ill effects of this deadly illness.
5. The eradication of dengue fever must be given top priority above everything else in this country.