Wednesday, September 1, 2010

According to Health Officials Dengue will peak around Games

Delhi may be in the throes of a dengue outbreak but the worst is yet to come. And it will coincide with the Games.

The disease, according to health officials, will peak after September 15 which means that the Games are all set to happen in peak dengue season. The situation, experts say, could have been avoided had the MCD and the Delhi government worked in tandem to preempt it rather than start fire-fighting when it becomes a menace and also trade blame.

The shortcomings were driven home once more on Tuesday when an alarmed Union health ministry asked the city government to step up dengue control measures even as 74 new cases were confirmed, taking the total tally to 937. ‘‘Dengue situation in the capital is alarming. The health secretary is monitoring the situation. We don’t want a dengue scare during the Games,’’ said a health ministry official.

MCD blames massive construction work and the rains for the spurt but does not have answers about why four years after the last outbreak it did not have a game plan to tackle these factors — none of which are unprecedented — in a more effective way. In fact given the cyclical nature of dengue, an outbreak was almost due, doctors say.

‘‘Almost all Games related projects are behind the schedule and the entire city is dug up. The disease will reach its peak after September 15,’’ said Dr V K Monga, chairman of health committee, MCD.

It is the usual blame game with Delhi government putting the onus on MCD and MCD alleging they did not receive enough funds from the city government. ‘‘MCD started awareness drives in July when dengue had already started happening,” said a senior government doctor. Sources said that of the Rs 80 lakh sanctioned for creating public awareness, MCD has spent only Rs 25 lakh.

But MCD officials said funds were not enough. ‘‘We had asked for Rs 79 crore, but they sanctioned only Rs 22 crore of which only Rs 11 crore has been released. We could not hire more domestic breeding checkers and failed to pay salary to existing DBCs,’’ said an official.

Health minister Kiran Walia sang the same tune. ‘‘Our hospitals are ready. But as for preventive measures, the health department can only assist the civic agencies. MCD has been given adequate funds,’’ Walia said.

‘‘The cyclic nature of the disease is responsible for more number of cases every four years, but it should have been uniform. NCR region is not reporting so many cases. Of the 937 cases just 21 odd cases have been reported from outside Delhi,’’ said a senior doctor with National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.


pnewell said...

Hi Eric,

I am a journalist with a foreign Television news network, and I would like to contact you for some background on the games preparations. Is it possible for me to contact you? Cheers, Paul.