Amid poll frenzy, dengue threat looms over Kerala

Health Department sources said since LSGD officers were busy with election duty, they were unable to coordinate with either the Arogya Sena workers or ward-level Health Sanitation Committees.

Published: 24th April 2019 03:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th April 2019 03:00 AM   |  A+A-

Dengue

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The intermittent rainfall in various parts of the state has sparked fears of a dengue outbreak. The Community Medicine Department of Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, has already shared its concern with the Health Department warning that the alternating wet-and-dry weather may lead to breeding of dengue-spreading mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti).
However, Health authorities said source-reduction programmes have taken a backseat due to the Lok Sabha elections, the polling for which will be held in the state on Tuesday. 

“A dengue alert has been issued to respective District Medical Officers. However, we are unable to coordinate with the Local Self Government Department (LSGD) as its officers are busy with election duty. After the completion of the poll process, the Health Department will coordinate with the LSGD to streamline programmes for vector control and the campaign and eradication process will be strengthened with the help of LSGD,” said Dr V Meenakshy, Additional Director of Health Services (Public Health). 

No regular updates
Sources with the Health Department said due to lack of supervision, no regular updates were being made on the ‘Suchitwa Jagratha’ web-platform, which was launched by the LSGD in June last year to strengthen pre/post monsoon epidemic prevention activities in the state. The portal aims at helping field-level health workers in updating information regarding the house and public visits they make and the prevention and eradication of vector-borne infectious diseases. 

Poll duty vs health risk
Health Department sources said since LSGD officers were busy with election duty, they were unable to coordinate with either the Arogya Sena workers or ward-level Health Sanitation Committees.  “Also, the sweltering heat conditions are a matter of concern. However, considering the risks posed by intermittent rains, there is an urgent need to take up source-reduction programmes,” said a Health Department source. 

165 deaths in 2017
The dengue outbreak in 2017 had resulted in the death of 165 people and 21,993 confirmed cases. Following this, the Health Department, in January last year, launched a year-long Arogya Jagratha campaign against contagious diseases by coordinating with various departments. 

The campaign got a boost when the Haritha Keralam Mission launched the ‘Jagratholsavam’ programme, involving students to spread messages on ways to check communicable diseases. However, such interventions are yet to be made this year.

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