AP government, private hospitals duel over dengue scare
Is there dengue or is there not? Patients suffering from fever of any sort are in a state of bewilderment with the state government blaming private hospitals for creating a dengue scare while the latter say they are indeed dealing with dengue.
Health minister D L Ravindra Reddy recently lashed out at corporate hospitals for ‘looting’ patients in the name of dengue fever. He accused them of stoking a dengue scare, conducting unnecessary tests on hapless patients suffering from viral fevers and forcing them to get platelet transfusion for a heavy fee. He is scheduled to chair a meeting with the Andhra Pradesh Superspecialty and Corporate Hospitals Association on Monday to discuss the issue.
The state government says that only 633 positive cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been registered in the state so far. But unconfirmed reports say over 1,000 cases are being treated in various private hospitals which say that the government is acknowledging only those cases that are registered in its own hospitals, ignoring the many that are referred to private hospitals. Though the government claims that only three dengue deaths have been confirmed so far, unofficial sources said that more than 25 people have died of dengue in the last couple of months.
G Swapna (16), a native of Thigalpahad village in Mancherial mandal of Adilabad district, died on Sept 13 after being treated for dengue symptoms for about a week. Initially, she was treated at a local hospital and then shifted to a private hospital in Karimnagar where she died. Another person, Darshan Chandriah (50) from the same district also died due to dengue at a private hospital in Nanded in Maharashtra. But officials are not ready to acknowledge the death of Chandraiah.
“Due to lack of a proper mechanism in the district medical and health department, officials are unable to maintain a proper record of the deaths due to dengue. Many cases, particularly patients who get treated in a neighbouring district or state due to lack of proper hospitals in their locality, are going unnoticed,” said a senior doctor at a corporate hospital in Hyderabad, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Several major government hospitals do not have proper facilities to treat dengue. For instance, the Vijayawada Government General Hospital, where hundreds of patients come for treatment every day, does not even have a platelet transfusion system.
A normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microlitre of blood. Patients would require platelet transfusion only when the count falls below 30,000. However, private hospitals are transfusing platelets even if there is a slight decrease of around 10,000 less.