Dengue and malaria could have been more effectively controlled in Calcutta and other parts of Bengal had some health officials and employees acted more responsibly, speakers at a seminar on vector-borne diseases jointly organised by the World Health Organization and the health department said on Monday.
Moloy De, the secretary of the health and family welfare department, cited the instance of a malignant malaria death in Jhargram in January. “This January, a person died of malignant malaria in Jhargram but Swastha Bhavan received the report nine days later. If the report had come earlier, we could have taken immediate action to prevent the spread of malaria,” De said, adding that the delay had led to the death of another person.
Health officials said the block medical officer had been on leave at that time and those filling in for him had not bothered to do their job. “The other officials should have taken the responsibility and sent the report,” said a senior official.
For the past two years, the total number of dengue cases across Bengal has remained almost the same and speakers at the seminar blamed it on lack of coordination between civic and municipal bodies and the health department.
In 2012, more than 6,000 people had been affected by dengue across Bengal and at least 20 people died. In 2013, around 5,900 cases of dengue had been detected, said health officials but the number of deaths dropped to less than 10. “The number of deaths went down because of more awareness among people,” the official pointed out.
Kajal Krishna Banik, zonal medical officer, Jalpaiguri, blamed lack of coordination between health department and some civic bodies for the outbreak of dengue in several parts of the state last year. “There was an outbreak of dengue near construction sites in Jalpaiguri town. We found that there was accumulation of water at construction sites but the municipal authorities took no notice,” he said.
In Calcutta there was an unusual spurt in dengue cases in November last year with most of the cases reported from Burrabazar, Howrah and the outskirts. Experts said prolonged monsoon and lack of vigil by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) after Puja had led to an increase in dengue cases.
Sources said 40 per cent of the contract workers hired to intensify surveillance were terminated because of lack of funds.
“In winter we geared up our surveillance and vigil was stepped up,” said Atin Ghosh, mayoral council member for health at the CMC.
WHO officials said more than half the world’s population was at risk from vector- borne diseases which account for 17 per cent of the global burden of communicable diseases.
Dipankar Mukherjee, regional team leader, WHO Country Office for India, called for “better surveillance and good reporting from all stakeholders of vector-borne diseases and vulnerable groups and areas”. “This requires a unified, inter-operable information system that can provide good health information,” he said.
Two men who hired a Tata Sumo from a travel agency in South 24-Parganas allegedly forced the driver out on the EM Bypass and fled with the car on Sunday night. Ashok Tanti, the owner of the car, said the duo hired the vehicle from Joynagar More. They allegedly asked the driver to stop near Dhalai Bridge on the Bypass. The driver was allegedly assaulted and abandoned near Anandapur.