Dengue: Another crisis in the making
Even as it seems to be getting the upper hand against Covid-19, India’s health system now confronts the challenge posed by dengue (primarily) and other vector-borne diseases — largely due to water-logging after the heavy rains and flooding in many parts of the country. Several Delhi hospitals are swamped with at least 723 dengue cases reported in the Union Territory so far. Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan have seen an increase in dengue cases since last month.
The earlier assumption that dengue-carrying mosquitoes only bred in clean water has been found to be erroneous with experts saying that they may also breed in stagnant water. Kerala, which is facing heavy flooding and landslides, witnessed a Nipah virus outbreak earlier in the season. Increasing numbers of malaria cases have also been reported. The central and state governments must act immediately and in sync to relieve pressure on an already over-stretched health system.
Even though it is late in the day, cleaning up areas of stagnant water bodies; clearing blocked drains; covering water tanks; treating water sources where mosquitoes breed and fogging may mitigate the situation. All patients coming to hospitals with fever must be screened for dengue. Blood banks have to be restocked. There are reports of fogging machines being in short supply. India must also strengthen monitoring and surveillance for vector-borne diseases as well as encourage greater community mobilisation to put in place preventive measures.