Every day the newspaper gives us news stating that this is the “Worst dengue crisis in 6 yrs”, and then the stats on number of cases such as “2191 positive cases –in last week alone”, “total 5982 cases and 17 deaths” and so on. On top of this one has to listen to the CM’s voice on FM after almost every other song, saying that his prayers are with us!
The point of the matter is, what are the facts of the case and whose responsibility is it to ensure that the people of Delhi or for that matter any part of India (As of Sept 15, 2015, nearly 21 000 cases of dengue have been reported across India), are safe and not a shikar to the Aedes mosquito?
Prevention is the key to this Public Health issue. What it requires is preventing mosquitoes from accessing egg-laying habitats by environmental management and modification; disposing of solid waste properly and removing artificial man-made habitats.
|Thekkekara Jacob John, virologist and former head of clinical virology at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, said, “Real numbers can emerge only with public health surveillance—one of the cardinal functions of a public health department, which is absent in India”.|
This means that the health department along with all converging departments have to (much before the rainy season, i.e. April-May or even much before), ensure that every nook and corner of the city is covered for environmental management proper disposal of solid wastes. This means for example that the authorities cannot (as one of the many examples) have a waste dump like the one next to the ESI hospital, nor have the canals of the Yamuna in the condition they are and most recently gaping roads where water collects and are a haven to the Aedes. Now the claim may well be “we do not have the finances or resources”. But the question is the authorities have to look beyond their nose, the amount spent to have protected waste dumps will in the long run bring down your resource costs, not to speak of the out of pocket expenses for large masses of the people. We will have a much healthier and productive human resources. Because along with this kind of meticulous and sustained environment management will also mean a much needed result of bringing down all other water borne diseases remarkably.
There has to be that recognition and translated in practice that Municipal workers are doing a very critical and important task for the rest of society. They have to provided more than minimum wages, given protective equipment and gear and given public applaud as champions of preventive health.
In 2010, in the overall 6259 cases were reported in Delhi, of which the distribution was North 1734 cases, south 1633, East 754 and the NDMC area 136. Now why would that be that the NDMC area has much less reported cases? Any guesses about why environmental management is taken care of in this area much better than the other parts of the city?
When the public health authorities take serious steps then creation and maintenance of public health awareness among citizens is made that much more credible and easier. It would then make sense to the citizen rich or poor, educated or uneducated to do his or her bit and go along way in improving community participation and mobilization for sustained vector control. And not the other way around where it being made out to be as if it is the people, their ignorance and lack of awareness that is primarily at fault!