THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thirty-five people died in 2018 due to acute respiratory infections (ARI) in the state, the figure was 13 in 2017. These startling figures from the National Health Profile (NHP) 2019 released by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence has got medical fraternity calling for a detailed study before the problem spirals out of control.
“ARI is a serious ailment that prevents normal breathing. As per data, the state reported 13 deaths in 2017 and 35 deaths in 2018. The total cases reported during the years were 58,87,367 and 58,57,820, respectively. But the data remains mum on age group-wise distribution of ARI,” said an officer of Health Department.
He further added that as it is mainly the children who are more prone to ARI, a detailed study will have to be conducted based on the NHP findings. Earlier it was found that 17.5 per cent of total cases of ARI reported in India during 2014 were from Kerala. Dr Binsu Vijayan of Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Calicut said, “When we conducted a study on the prevalence of ARI among under-five age group children in a rural area of Kozhikode district, we found that it was higher in children living in crowded houses.”
According to him, the other contributing factors were poorly ventilated houses, houses in which there were no smoke outlets, smoking by a family member inside the house and houses with pets. “Underweight children were also found to have higher rates of ARI,” he added. He said most deaths among children were due to non-prescribed use of drugs which leads to antimicrobial resistance, failure to complete the course of antibiotics and malnutrition, among others. In the case of adults, co-infections, smoking and diabetes could be the reasons. However, overlooking symptoms like sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, tight chest or wheezing might also aggravate ARI and lead to death.
A Directorate of Health Services officer said the mortality related data mentioned in NHP was surprising and added,”It should be examined how the data was compiled. Sometimes the viral infection also aggravates ARI. Before coming to a conclusion, the data available with the Prevention of Epidemic and Infectious Disease Cell and Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme should also be examined.”