Monsoon will bring a set of health challenges
The southwest monsoon hit the coast of Kerala, its first port of call, on time. As it now segues into the hinterland, the monsoon will also bring with it health challenges such as malaria, dengue and leptospirosis. This year, containing these illnesses will be more difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic, which could affect the operationalisation of the standard operating procedure (SOP) that governments follow to keep other diseases under control.
The SOP — fogging, desilting of drains, checking houses for stagnant water and public outreach on protocols related to these illnesses — could be hampered because the front line staff — heath officials and sanitation workers — is busy tackling Covid-19; there is also pressure on resources. The monsoon ailments, however, affect hundreds of people every year, and the season for these illnesses is getting extended due to the climate crisis. For example, in 2019, Mumbai witnessed a surge in dengue cases in November due to unprecedented rains.
This year, the problem is further complicated because the symptoms (fever, sore throat and body ache) of Covid-19, dengue and malaria, and a few other diseases such as typhoid and common flu overlap. If patient are infected with one of them, doctors will have to test them for a particular ailment and, if found negative, will have to do a Covid-19 test. This will burden the testing infrastructure. India cannot afford to have another health crisis and more non-Covid-19 patients in hospitals. Governments will have to do their best to identify manpower and resources for following prevention guidelines. Citizens must be careful and take precautions.