While the country continues to grapple with the ongoing devastation caused by the floods, a familiar health emergency threatens our cities and the flood-affected areas, and their respective health infrastructure. Waterborne dengue infection has broken out in all four provinces, with panic and fear spreading among the public. 74 dengue patients were reported in three government-run hospitals in Rawalpindi. In Islamabad, 92 people were diagnosed with the disease during the last two days. At least 30 people have so far lost their lives due to dengue viral infection at seven leading public and private health facilities in Karachi.

Pakistan has suffered the brunt of dengue epidemics before, with the country undergoing dire situations in 2017 and 2011. In 2021 too, while the country was reeling from a second coming of the coronavirus pandemic, dengue infections spread, though not to the extent of previous epidemics. While dengue breakouts now appear to be a yearly or once in two years circumstance that Pakistan will have to undergo, the high rates of infection this time around may be spurred on by the deadly floods.

Nevertheless, the spread of dengue, at a time when already health infrastructure is overburdened, can be irrevocably disastrous for the country. The fact that the government is already overburdened, and health facilities are weakened due to the floods cannot be an excuse, considering the country has time and again dealt with this health emergency and has protocols in place already.

The government must start an aggressive dengue awareness programme and conduct fumigation campaigns as soon as possible. If this is not contained, it has the potential of snowballing into catastrophe—places with still water provide conditions ripe for not just dengue but other deadly diseases and epidemics like malaria and gastroenteritis, so it is prudent to have strict restrictions already in place