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Civic bodies under-reporting dengue toll, hospital data show

delhi Updated: Sep 17, 2015 08:45 IST
Anonna Dutt

A view of the emergency ward at Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, which has been receiving a large number of dengue cases.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT)

Dengue figures in the Capital may have been grossly under-reported, shows an analysis of data from various hospitals.

Eight government hospitals have reported 13 deaths as on Saturday, but the municipal corporations have confirmed just five.

Data from the civic bodies, which collate information from all private and government hospitals, clinics and nursing homes across the Capital, confirms just 1,872 dengue cases. This figure seems grossly low as data from eight government hospitals here alone account for 1,850 cases.

Just two private hospitals add another 633 cases — Ganga Ram Hospital saw 398 positive cases, and BLK confirmed 235. And by a rough estimate, Delhi has 1,000 health agencies.

Furthermore, the civic bodies only count deaths as due to dengue when hospitals confirm the cases tested positive for the infection in a serology test (Elisa), considered gold-standard. The civic bodies don’t accept positive results by the Rapid-Card Test, which experts say can throw up almost 50% false positive cases.

Apart from the 13 serology-confirmed deaths, there were 12 other suspected dengue deaths in RML (11) and Lal Bahadur Shastri (1) where patients died of dengue-like symptoms without undergoing a serology test.

“The data is provided by hospitals to the south corporation, which then verifies and confirms that it is a dengue death. The patients’ Elisa test result and case history have to be provided for this process. If the hospitals do not send a proper report, we cannot count it as dengue death,” said Yogendar Maan, spokesperson of MCD. “Also, if the patients suffer from other morbid conditions such as cancer, the case is likely not to be counted as dengue death,” he said.

Meanwhile, hospitals are battling a terrible shortage of infrastructure and staff that patients with the infectious disease are made to share a bed.

At Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, which saw the maximum number of cases at 490, two to three patients share a bed in the emergency ward. Many are treated on stretchers for shortage of beds.

“When we say that we are full, it does not mean that each bed is occupied by one person. It means there is no room for another person to somehow fit in any of the beds,” said a doctor at RML’s new emergency building, where everyone with fever symptoms is tested for dengue.

Private hospitals are also overflowing with patients, with many being denied admission.

Read:‘No hospital had a bed for my son’: Dengue victim's father

Dengue outbreak: Kejriwal conducts surprise checks at Delhi hospitals

Dengue outbreak: 5 things that you must know about the disease