Dengue has spread its tentacles in 31 of Madhya Pradesh’s 51 districts this year, with authorities putting the number of dengue patients in the state over 600.
According to the official figures more than six people have died due to dengue this year. However, sources in various districts told HT that the figure of actual dengue patients and causalities could be higher as many cases do not reported.
The districts where the number of dengue patients has swelled this year include Bhopal, Sagar and Narsinghpur besides Chhindwara, Sheopur, Mandla, Indore etc. The capital city alone has reported over 158 cases, highest in the last four years.
HT spoke to senior officials in the health department and district malaria officers (DMOs) about the status of dengue. In many cases, the figures given by senior health department officials at Bhopal didn’t match with the figures given by the DMOs. Most of the district health officials HT spoke to seemed to underplay the threat of dengue and gave figures which were lesser compared to the figures given by the health department.
In case of Narsinghpur district, while the DMO said around 80 people had been detected with dengue, the health department in Bhopal claimed the number of dengue patients in the district was 99 this year. DMO Narsinghpur Dr AR Maravi claimed there were no deaths due to dengue in the district. However, spoke to some residents in Narsinghpur, who said three people had died due to dengue in Morass village.
In rural areas, where lot needs to be done for water storage, sanitation and hygiene, officials find it challenging to check dengue. DMO Mandla Dr BM Varun said it was difficult to check dengue compared to other vector borne diseases. "It is not easy to convince people to change the water storage habits. Also dengue eggs are difficult to destroy," he said.
There are many who feel a holistic approach to tackle dengue was lacking in the state. "First, in the rural areas, people are confusing dengue with malaria and viral diseases. Awareness regarding dengue is still poor in many areas of the state," said Rahul Sharma, from Madhya Pradesh Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, an non-governmental organisation that works on health education in MP.
According to Sharma, dengue cannot be tackled unless the issues of water, hygiene, sanitation and healthcare facilities are addressed in a holistic manner.
According to experts, dengue outbreaks evolve quickly, requiring emergency response to immediately control infected mosquitoes in order to interrupt or reduce transmission and to reduce or eliminate the breeding sites of the vector mosquito Aedes aegypti. Senior officials in health department claim that given the nature and transmission of dengue, they alone cannot check its spread.
"Compared to last year, when over 1,200 people had been infected with dengue, this year the number of infection are less than half till now. But it is our duty to check this disease to the maximum level. But the problem is that civic authorities and people have to cooperate with us. At the root, it is people who have to come forward to prevent it," said joint director (vector diseases) Dr Mohan Singh while talking to HT.