A District Development Council (DDC) meeting held at the Collectorate here on Saturday witnessed anger and protest from people's representatives against the alleged failure of the authorities concerned to take steps to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

The district is vulnerable to communicable diseases liker malaria caused by mosquitoes. The absence of sanitation, garbage disposal and cleaning operations by municipalities and grama panchayats resulted in the spread of communicable diseases in different parts of the district, they said.

One person at Ottapplam died of rat fever (leptospirosis) last week and two were undergoing treatment for the disease.

Nearly 1,000 people sought treatment in the district hospital for fever and dysentery on Saturday. In the last two weeks 30 people were found affected with jaundice in the district. Cases of dengue fever and typhoid were also reported from different parts of the district.

In the DDC meeting, M. Chandran and C.P. Mohammed, MLAs, came down heavily against the municipal and grama panchayat authorities for their failure to take up sanitation and waste disposal works.

They were also supported by M.B. Rajesh, MP, Shafi Parambil and V. Chenthamarakshan, MLAs.

They urged the authorities to take urgent and effective steps to control the spread of epidemics.

The meeting also urged the government to fill the vacancies of doctors and paramedical staff in the hospitals. There are 110 vacancies of doctors out of a total of 357 posts in the district. The District Hospital, which used to have nearly 1,000 out-patients daily, has 13 vacancies of doctors.

C.P. Mohammed, MLA, urged the authorities to call a meeting of municipal chairmen, grama panchayat presidents and secretaries to take up urgent cleaning and waste management steps in every taluk. He also sought special sanitation and cleaning programmes in schools.

He said that in the exiting emergency situation of a possible outbreak of epidemics, the doctors should not be granted leave.

The people's representatives said that though Rs.10,000 was allotted to each ward of the local bodies by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), half of the local bodies had not spent the money, despite threat of the epidemics.

A resolution, moved by Mr. Chandran, urging the State government to set up a government medical college in the district was passed unanimously by the DDC meeting.

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