Delhi’s anti-dengue drive is laudable | HT editorial
Ten minutes a week to get rid of stagnant water is well worth it to fight dengueUpdated: Sep 09, 2019 20:48 IST
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-dengue 10 weeks-10 o’clock-10 minutes campaign (#10Hafte10Baje10Minute) asking people to spend 10 minutes at 10 am every Sunday for 10 weeks to rid their homes of all stagnant water has caught the public imagination, with the twitterati flooding social media with photos of them drying out pools of water in their homes. Stagnant fresh water is a breeding ground for the disease-carrying Culex aegeyti mosquito that spreads dengue, chikungunya and zika fever, and the anopheles mosquito that spreads malaria, which together infect and kill several thousand people in India every year. The timing of the campaign to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding is critical as annual outbreaks peak in September and October in the weeks following the monsoons, which leads to water collecting in disused objects and unused sites. The most cost-effective way to prevent outbreaks is to stop the mosquito from breeding, which cannot be left to health and sanitation department.
At least 3.9 billion people in 128 countries are at risk of dengue, which led to 1.01 lakh recorded cases in India last year. The real number of infections is much higher as most infected people develop mild fever and flu-like symptoms and, in the absence of rash and external bleeding, do not get tested. Sanitation department drives against mosquito-breeding have kept dengue cases in Delhi well below 10,000 since the peak of 15,867 cases reported in 2015, even as cases have shot up in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab and West Bengal in the same period. The death rate can be reduced with early diagnosis and treatment, which involves keeping the patient hydrated, treating the symptoms and the platelet count around 10% of the normal reading of 150,000. Outbreaks recognise no boundaries. Spending 10 minutes a week to clear our homes and neighbourhood of stagnant water is a small premium to pay for health insurance against dengue, malaria, chikungunya and zika.