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Updated: August 29, 2013 01:22 IST

A question of epidemic ignorance

Asif Yar Khan
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Grieving family members of young Shah Rukh in Chaderghat. - Photo: Asif Yar Khan
The Hindu Grieving family members of young Shah Rukh in Chaderghat. - Photo: Asif Yar Khan

The diphtheria deaths in the city brings to fore the complete lack of health awareness in the slums, where parents refuse vaccination to their kids and rely on quacks

A day after six-year-old Shahrukh hailing from Chaderghat died due to diphtheria at the Fever Hospital, authorities on Wednesday swung into action and took up a door-to-door survey to identify potential cases in the area.

While the personnel of the Health Department checked for cases of diphtheria or any other ailment, the local GHMC teams cleaned up the slum and sprinkled disinfectants. This was in sharp contrast to the garbage usually found littered all over the area.

“What is the use of doing it now? The worst has already happened and there is no way you can bring back my son,” said a sobbing Wahid Miya, a daily wager.

His family comprises seven sons and two daughters and all stay in a small tenement at the Vinayaka Veedhi slum abutting river Musi. “He was not well since Friday and we took him to a private clinic for two days. Finally on Monday we took him to Fever Hospital, but he died the same day,” says Ismail Bee, his mother.

The incident has once again brought to fore the levels of health awareness in the slums across the city. “In fact we visited the house and asked the family members to take vaccination, but they did not oblige,” claims Anita, a paramedic from the local urban health centre at Chaderghat.

The situation is worse in areas where quacks run the show. “The quacks hand over some medicine and do not refer the cases to government hospitals for fear of losing money. And by the time they realise the seriousness of the ailment it is too late,” S. Q. Masood, a social activist says.

Activists attribute lack of access to proper health care as a prime reason for such incidents. The Urban Health Post’s (UHPs) are open only during the day depriving the people of medical care. The trend in this part of the city is to visit clinics in the evening which are managed by the quacks. It results in delays in timely identification of the ailment leading to deaths,” says another social activist.

Cases of jaundice, viral fevers, typhoid and malaria are too common in the slums across the Old City. Not only the authorities, but also the general public and public representatives are to be blamed for it. “We are not allowed to carry out anti-larval drive in a few areas. What if tomorrow some epidemic breaks out?” questions a GHMC official.

Doctors working in the south of the city claim that compared to other areas, cases of seasonal ailments are high here.

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