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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014
Return of dengue shows a lack of civic awareness
Freehand | Soni Sangwan, PTI
New Delhi, October 18, 2003
First Published: 12:01 IST(18/10/2003)
Last Updated: 12:01 IST(18/10/2003)

...We are so used to depending on the government for everything that we refuse to act on our own and wait for the government to do everything for us. Why do we have to wait for the government to tell us that we should empty our water coolers and not let the water stagnate?

The reappearance of the deadly dengue fever in the city, in such a big way after 1996 is more than just an indictment of civic authorities. It is, in fact, an even more severe indictment of the lack of civic awareness in the people of Delhi.

It is a shame that we as a people lack the basic civic sense that would have prevented the killer Aedes Egyptie from finding an ideal breeding ground in our backyards.

Simple precautionary measures like ensuring that there is no water accumulation either in coolers or in drains will be able to curtail the breeding of mosquitoes.

But we are so used to depending on the government for everything that we refuse to act on our own and wait for the government to come and do everything for us.

Why do we have to wait for the government to tell us that we should empty our water coolers and not let the water stagnate? Why do we have to wait for the government to come with defogging machines to rid us of mosquitoes?

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi did try to raise awareness about dengue through advertisement campaigns and even an intensive drive to challan people and government officers promoting mosquitogenic conditions.

Despite the highly publicised challaning of several prominent people in Delhi for encouraging conditions that are conducive to mosquito breeding, most people did not learn anything.

If we have not done our bit to ensure our own health ourselves, then we have no right to expect the municipal authorities to ensure that there are no mosquitoes around our localities.

But the Municipal Corporation of Delhi too needs to be faulted for not getting its act together in time. The suspension of an assistant engineer for not getting the defogging machines repaired in time also presents an interesting insight into the functioning of the MCD.

No senior officer reacted in time to ensure that the assistant engineer did his job. It is only now, when the number of cases is going up that the MCD has reacted. And how? By suspending a junior officer.

That said, it is also necessary to point out that no lessons seem to have been learnt from the 1996 experience. In 1996, when the first dengue outbreak left several hundreds dead, the city was completely unprepared for the disease.

Several doctors at that time turned away suspected dengue cases because they themselves were not sure of treatment protocols.

This time round, with treatment protocols well laid down, if people are still dying of dengue then hospital managements have to examine where they are lacking.

The current situation is so bad that there are no beds available in any of the hospitals.

The first thing that the relatives of suspected dengue patients do, is use their contacts to get a bed in a hospital.

Then begins the struggle to get a diagnosis done .It takes three days to get a confirmed diagnosis and till that time the patient is put on symptomatic treatment.

What makes the current number of dengue deaths more alarming is the fact that there is no dearth of platelets in the city. Since dengue decreases the platelet count, it is necessary to keep the transfusing platelets increase the patient's platelet

If, in spite of the easy availability of platelets, patients are dying, then there is an obviously need to look at the management of the cases closely.

It is sad that because of the combined factors of a lazy administration, a selfish and disinterested population and an inadequate health care system, the preventable outbreak of dengue has spread across the city.


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