Forum: Dengue's impact goes beyond number of patients hospitalised

The Ministry of Health's director of medical services Kenneth Mak has said the increase in dengue cases in recent months is still manageable (Spike in dengue cases has not overburdened health system, July 25).

This surge in cases has affected not only individuals, but also the community, the primary healthcare and public health systems and, potentially, our economy.

A record 1,733 dengue cases were reported two weeks ago. It was also the sixth consecutive week that the weekly number of reported dengue cases exceeded 1,000. The number of active dengue clusters also continues to rise.

Such massive increases in cases and active clusters impose a significant burden on our public health system as well as the primary healthcare system.

Doctors at outpatient clinics have to deal with the current double crisis of Covid-19 and dengue.

The responsibility upon their shoulders is heavy as they face the challenging task of having to diagnose and manage patients infected with Covid-19 and/or dengue.

While dengue is often a mild disease, it may potentially be fatal, even to healthy young individuals. In patients who have recovered from dengue, the sequelae of dengue may be sufficiently disabling to lead to loss of work and productivity.

At the national level, this disease burden on individuals may be translated into a burden upon the economy.

It may not often be the case that dengue patients require hospitalisation or admission into intensive care units. But it would be dangerous to underestimate the impact of dengue on the community and healthcare system based on inpatient care alone.

Effective vector control, prevention, clinical diagnosis and management of the disease, as well as community education and engagement, are fundamental and pressing considerations for Singapore.

Let us work towards effective measures to curb the menace of dengue.

Ho Ting Fei (Dr)

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