CHENNAI: Since dengue cases rise during rains, it may be wise to have an adequate number of permanent field staff for dengue prevention activities, opine a few health department officials. The State reported 2,521 dengue cases and zero deaths this year till Saturday. Ninety-seven people are undergoing treatment for the infection in various hospitals across the State.
According to health department data, 39 dengue cases were reported in the last seven days. In January, 980 cases were reported, in February 648, March 419, April 278, and May 160. Last year, TN reported 6,039 cases and eight deaths.
According to the Directorate of Public Health (DPH), Domestic Breeding Checkers (DBC) have been deployed via local bodies for dengue control activities. The DBCs are tasked with carrying out source reduction and anti-larval work in areas assigned to them. The DPH also collects mosquito samples periodically to check for the presence of dengue virus antigen in the vector.
A block supervisor of the DPH said at least one permanent DBC is needed for every panchayat. They are now recruited on a contract basis, but only during the period when dengue cases spike (normally October-January)
Also, there is a dearth of health inspectors who supervise field activities. The State’s health sub-centres, which have one village health nurse each, don’t have health inspectors in the same numbers, affecting the effectiveness of field works. Health inspectors play an important role in controlling not only dengue but also other infectious diseases.
According to sources, dengue deaths can be prevented if awareness among people about the infection can be increased. Director of Public Health Dr T S Selvavinayagam, however, said dengue is a seasonal infection and there is no need for permanent DBCs. “We hire them when there is a need to control dengue. It’s the duty of the people to keep their surroundings clean. This will help to control dengue.”