Dengue Outbreak: Blame Game continues

While Delhi sees new cases of Chikungunya surfacing, the dengue outbreak continues unabated with the authorities concerned washing their hands off the matter altogether
Shibu Kumar Tripathi Delhi

The Union government has agreed to reserve 10 percent of the beds in central government hospitals for treatment of dengue and chikungunya patients, following a meeting between the Union Health Minister JP Nadda and state Health Minister Satyendra Jain. Meanwhile, special fever clinics will be opened in Delhi and NCR while Delhi hospitals have set aside 1500 beds for such patients. The new move aims to provide better medical facilities to the growing number of Chikungunya patients in the capital as the death toll is on the rise.

With the increasing number of cases being reported the government has been taken by surprise. It's evident that it was completely oblivious to chikungunya becoming such a rampant disease in no time. There was no alert or advisory issued regarding the outbreak of chikungunya this year, while the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) had issued an alert about the outbreak of dengue in June which claimed lives of over 50 people last year.

Doctors in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said that “the vector-borne disease is somewhat similar to dengue however the virus seems to have mutated itself a bit. Though it exhibits similar properties as dengue virus it is not an exact replica.”

Officials in the Department of Health and Family Welfare said that dengue and chikungunya have changed their life cycles, the disease which earlier had a 6-7 year life cycle has been turning up every other year for the last couple of years. Doctors seemed to be denying the fact that chikungunya were the exact cause of deaths in all 12 cases. Dr SP Byotra of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said that, “the five chikungunya deaths that took place in the hospital were of people between 60-75 years of age. In each of these cases, they already had associated health problems which were precipitated by the chikungunya virus.”

In the last one month over 1000 cases of dengue and chikungunya have been reported throughout the city and hospitals have been flooded with patients. Meanwhile, according to figures of NVBDCP over 12,000 cases of the two diseases had been reported throughout the nation by August end. Doctors said that chikungunya has grasped the city mostly due to poor health and sanitation facilities, most of the drainages in the city are open and blocked providing a haven for brooding of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, which are the prime carriers of Chikungunya virus.

The false claims of cleaning and regular fogging drives by the government and local bodies have been exposed and criticism is being hurled from every corner. While the health minister was criticised for his comments that chikungunya was not deadly, he made a series of visits to various hospitals giving a positive report of the necessary steps being taken.

As people die due to lack of proper medication and cleanliness, the blame game between the government and the local bodies continues unabated. While the health minister appealed to people not to panic, he accused LG Najeeb Jung of paralysing the administration, and MCD for not cleaning the drains and by-lanes. Meanwhile, the MCD retaliated by saying that the minister did not respond to their regular request for a meeting to discuss the ways to control this outbreak.