MCD again under-reports dengue, chikungunya cases in Delhi
Safdarjung Hospital confirmed 186 cases of chikungunya this year but the MCD report found only 161 cases across all hospitals in the NCR.delhi Updated: Jul 11, 2017 00:25 IST
A single government hospital in Delhi has recorded more cases of dengue and chikungunya among its patients this year than the municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD) said on Monday have occurred in the entire city.
The radical disparity raises the prospect of a total lack of accurate and timely data concerning Delhi’s most frequent and harmful mosquito-borne diseases just as the monsoon season starts.
Safdarjung confirmed 186 cases of chikungunya this year. The MCD report found only 161 cases across all hospitals in the NCR. The MCD officially confirmed 109 dengue cases, while Safdarjung hospital alone recorded 310.
The hospital’s testing methods are approved by both the Centre and the state government. According to the state government, Delhi has more than 1,000 health agencies. Just last year, a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had slammed the MCD for mismanaging its response to mosquito-borne illnesses.
According to the report, the south corporation, which is responsible for compiling all the data in the NCR, reported only 22,436 of the 67,578 positive cases of dengue found by hospitals between 2013 and 2015, when Delhi witnessed its worst-ever outbreak of dengue.
The final MCD report in 2015 confirmed 15,867 cases, which was less than half of the number of cases reported by hospitals.
The CAG report also noted that of 409 dengue deaths reported across city hospitals in 2015, MCD’s death review committee confirmed only 60.
According to the CAG, only 30% of the health institutions in Delhi that are required to report dengue cases actually gave their data to the MCD.
This militates against the state government identifying hotspots of infection and mosquito-breeding. Data is also used for targeted mosquito-control measures, such as house-to-house checks for larvae and fumigation.
The problem, sources say, lies with both the MCD and the hospitals – often stemming from lack of proper guidelines.
According to a doctor at Safdarjung, for example, the hospital is not reporting many of its cases to the government because of confusion over what kind of data is needed. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the doctor said that Safdarjung had told the MCD about all 61 of the dengue patients it had formally admitted, but not all of the 249 it had not. The hospital’s reported data was also incomplete for chikungunya patients, whom it does not admit.
Safdarjung does not report a case if it is unsure of the patient’s address since, the doctor said, addresses are necessary for the government’s attempts to prevent mosquito breeding.
But a large portion of the data published by the government actually does lack patient addresses. “We get data without addresses,” said Dr NR Das, a municipal health officer of the east corporation.
Das defended the integrity of the state government’s report even while seeming to concede its inaccuracy. “If the data is sent, it is recorded,” he said. “Even though reporting dengue and chikungunya is mandatory, more than half the hospitals and health institutions either do not do it, or they delay it. Often the documentation is incomplete, so the case cannot be added.”