NEW DELHI: With the season of vector-borne diseases fast approaching, Delhi, unlike previous years, might not yet be fully prepared this time to tackle the surge in cases of dengue, malaria and chikungunya.
Last year, the government had claimed success in combating such diseases, but owing to the pandemic and attention being shifted towards it, cases of vector-borne diseases are likely to be less reported.
The primary work of fumigation, screening of houses and identifying breeding spots are done by the municipal corporations. However, their work this year has largely been affected due to multiple reasons, primarily Covid-19. “The first is that the domestic breeding checkers (DBC) cannot visit the houses or enter to check if the coolers are kept clean or if there is stagnant water which can be a potential breeding spot for mosquitoes.
This is owing to coronavirus. Also, not all the streets can be fogged as many fall under containment zones. So, overall, coronavirus has affected a lot of measures taken to counter dengue and malaria,” said Dr Pramod Kumar, additional medical health officer, North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Another factor is the deferment of salaries to staffers due to the tight budgets that local bodies are operating with.
“Budget is another issue. More funds are required to carry out the ground-level work. Also, many of the DBC workers and staffers are engaged in other sanitation work related to Covid-19,” said Dr BK Hazarika, South MCD Health Officer. Dr Punit Mishra, Professor, Community Medicine, AIIMS Delhi noted that owing to similar symptoms such as high fever, body ache, headache among others, patients are first tested getting tested for Covid-19 rather than the other common vector-borne diseases.
“There is a lot happening with diagnostic delays. People, if tested negative for corona, are not going for dengue or malaria tests. Therefore many cases are not getting reported. Also, there are fewer blood donations this time and that might affect the treatment of patients with vector-borne diseases. At AIIMS, there are patients who are infected with both corona and dengue, so their treatment has to be careful. Compared to last year, there are already more patients admitted owing to dengue. Afterall, dengue is also a fatal disease and cannot be sidelined. Cases of vector-borne diseases may be a bit higher this time,” stated Dr Mishra.
Dr Pramod stated that as many of hospitals are already tending to Covid-19 patients, many healthcare workers have also been exposed to the virus, which means has left fewer HCWs to deal with patients having vector-borne diseases.