Delhi must learn to deal with dengue

Hundreds of people lose their life to dengue and malaria every year


Jasleen Kaur | November 12, 2012

Every year there is an outbreak of Dengue in Delhi. The municipal corporations assure that the situation is in control but many people lose their life due to this disease. So is there anything wrong with the approach of authorities to handle the issue? Or are we not making enough efforts to prevent it?
This year more than 1300 cases of dengue have been reported in Delhi so far. In 2011, a total of 891 dengue cases were reported, whereas a total of 5,769 cases were reported in 2010.

The unusual high number in 2010 was due to massive construction work across the city for the Commonwealth Games. Stagnant pool of water could be seen at different places where mosquitoes wpould breed.

Dr Amod Kumar, head of department of community health, St. Stephen’s hospital says the biggest problem with the national capital is that public health is not properly planned. He adds, “Very little thought has been done to cover big open water bodies. You do not see open drains like ours in any modern city.”

Citing an example of London, Kumar says, people there voted for proper drainage system over construction of Metro. “This is how important the drainage system is for a city. But here even people are not bothered and do not vote on such issues. Stagnat water across the city is a common sight,” he says.

Kumar also says that Delhi’s span is huge and huge number of manpower and infrastructure will be required to build in a system. He adds that the nullah can be covered with roads, like it is done in some parts of the city, which will not only give enough space but will also cover them properly.

Unlike Delhi, Surat which faced an epidemic like situation in 1994, worked out on solution and managed to build in infrastructure to fight the situations like Dengue and malaria.

The Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has taken up the task to identify and eliminate breeding spots of mosquitoes, which are the cause of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria, in various parts of the city. The health department surveillance teams carried out inspection on around 4.5 lakh households. Surat has approximately 50 lakh population staying in 10 lakh households.

Till date the corporation has managed to collect Rs 45 lakh as penalty from owners who do not abide by the rules and if they have any mosquitoes breeding spots on their premises.

“Delhi has to tackle with mosquitoes for just four months in a year. In Surat, high temperature with high humidity results in high breeding of mosquitoes round the year,” says Dr Keshav Vaishnav, Insecticide officer and head of Vector Borne Disease Control Department.

Vaishnav says it all changed after the plague episode in 1994. The municipal corporation appointed regular staff for monitoring and surveillance. Today it has enough infrastructure and manpower to deal with such situation. The corporation has 500 surveillance workers who visit the household every fortnight.
“Corporation alone cannot fight this. You need to have enough infrastructure and manpower to handle it,” Vaishnav adds. There has been no death due to dengue and malaria yet.




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