Rs.60 lakh likely to be spent in Corporation limits

The final phase of the campaign against mosquitoes and dengue, scheduled to begin on Sunday, has imposed a severe strain on the exchequer. The last two Sundays saw the Health Department and the city Corporation, engaging 5,000 squads — or 15,000 persons — in the Corporation wards to go on house visits to do intensive source reduction activities. The government spends Rs.470 for a three-member squad, every time it is deployed.

Sources at the Health Department say that the cost for the first round of battle against mosquitoes was around Rs.24 lakh. The second round’s expenses stood at around Rs.16 lakh. By the time the third round is completed, the government would have spent at least Rs.60 lakh on battling mosquitoes just in the Corporation area.

“It is not possible for any government to spend that much to fight mosquitoes throughout the year. The intensive vector control drive cannot be sustained unless there is public involvement. Dengue is an environmental problem which everyone needs to wake up to and fight at the household level,” points out a public health expert.

“We need public education to prevent vector breeding around houses and enforcement of stringent public health laws. As in Singapore, heavy fines must be imposed on people whose houses are found to be the breeding grounds of mosquitoes,” he says. Despite the sustained and militant manner in which Singapore’s National Environment Agency has been fighting dengue over the years, there has been a re-emergence of dengue in recent times because of slackening public involvement.

Dengue has been endemic in the capital city since 2003. The combination of a hardy vector like the Aedes, regular spells of dry and wet climatic conditions throughout the year, and poor solid waste management system provides the mosquitoes a fertile ground to multiply.

Dwindling cases

Officials point out that it is not possible for the Health Department to put all its manpower on battling mosquitoes. “ASHAs were pulled out from their regular areas of activities to be re-deployed for this campaign. The efforts of the past two Sundays seem to have paid off because after the second round, the number of dengue cases reported from the Corporation daily has dwindled to two or three from the earlier six or seven. The Corporation’s Health section will have to sustain the activities to keep the number of cases down,” a district health administration official said.