Mosquito-borne diseases in focus are dengue, malaria, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and lymphatic filariasis

Disease surveillance in Madurai district is set to improve as the Health Department plans to form rapid response teams to tackle vector-borne diseases.

Through the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, several capacity building initiatives are being taken up in the districts to prevent outbreak of diseases and handle epidemic situations in an effective way.

The mosquito-borne diseases under focus are dengue, malaria, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and lymphatic filariasis. A special training programme was conducted in Chennai from February 4 to 8 for public health officials and entomologists from select districts.

S. Senthilkumar, Deputy Director of Health Services, Madurai district, who attended the refresher course, told The Hindu on Saturday that the response of health officials during epidemics and clinical management in disease affected areas would be strengthened.

“It was training for the trainers. Now, we have to equip our district health staff on prevention and treatment aspects in mosquito-borne diseases. A plan of action would be given by the Central government for implementation,” he said.

Regional-level teams would be formed in the State to cover all districts by putting in place a strengthened surveillance mechanism for vector-borne diseases, he said.

Latha Freeda Joan, District Malaria Officer, who is also part of the trainers’ team, said that the special attention on mosquito-related diseases assumed significance owing to the recent outbreak of dengue fever in various pockets of Madurai district. “From now on, we will have an integrated approach in disease control by having better coordination among various government departments. Districts which are more endemic to diseases such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya have been identified in the first phase. Our district will have rapid response teams,” she added.

A strategic approach would be in place where the disease prevalence rate was high in the recent months and prevention measures would be taken up there. Block-level medical officers, village health nurses and other public health staff would be trained.

Ms. Joan said that the vector-borne disease control plan would cover Government Rajaji Hospital, taluk hospitals and primary health centres. “When Madurai district was reeling under dengue fever a couple of months ago, initially there was panic everywhere and we were also caught off guard. The formation of rapid response teams will increase our preparedness,” she said.