With the onset of monsoon, the Central Travancore district of Pathanamthitta which was worst-hit by Chikunguniya virus infection five years ago, once again started shivering with viral fever that has been spreading to an epidemic proportion in many parts of the district.
Various Government healthcare centres in the district have registered as many as 4500 viral fever cases during the past 12 days, according to official sources.
Dr Laila Divakar, District Medical Officer, and Dr L.Anithakumari, Deputy DMO, told The Hindu that a total of 39,270 cases of viral fever have been registered at various Government hospitals and primary health centres (PHC) in the district from January 1 to June 12.
The situation turns much more alarming with the growing number of dengue and leptospirosis cases reported from different part of the district. Official sources say that a total of 36 clinically confirmed cases of dengue fever, besides 158 suspected dengue cases, have been reported from different parts f the district as on Tuesday. A 72-year old person was died of dengue fever in Kottangal, Dr Anithakumari said.
Official records show that a total of 11 confirmed cases of leptospirosis have been reported from the district during the past five months, besides 47 suspected cases.
This year, a total of six persons died suspiciously due to leptospirosis as on Monday, said Dr L.Anitakumari, Deputy District Medical Officer.
She said most of the leptospirosis cases have been reported from Chathankaray and other parts of Upper Kuttanad.
Dumping of waste in public places as well as the clogged canals have made these places safe breeding grounds for rodents.
Contamination of fresh water sources like rivers and canals due to callous dumping of waste from chicken corners, slaughter houses, hotels, markets, etc, has become a major pollution problem in many parts of the district.
The alleged criminal negligence on the part of the official machinery, civil administration, people’s representatives and other authorities concerned towards protecting the environment and natural water sources has been identified the main problem, leaving the common man exposed to all sorts of health risk.
``It is sad that the highly literate and health conscious Central Travancore district has been taken to the backfoot in public hygiene and sanitation. It is high time each citizen and the civil administration took safe waste disposal and sanitation their a collective responsibility, keeping themselves away from the practice of blaming each other for their own flaws, in order to protect the State from further public health crisis,’’ says Fr Abraham Mulamoottil, chairman of Pushpagiri Group of Institutions who has launched the `Green and Clean City’ project in Thiruvalla a year ago.
Callous dumping of solid waste and waterlogging in the close vicinity of markets at Enathu near Adoor from where a good number of viral fever cases have been reported is a testimony to man’s crass neglect to health hygiene.
Local self-government institutions dumping all sorts of waste in the thickly populated areas of Thiruvalla, Adoor, Kozhencherry, Pathanamthitta, Pandalam, Ranni, Naranammoozhy, Konni, Mallappally, Parakode, etc, is a testimony to their criminal negligence towards public health, alleges, Prof Thomas P.Thomas, academic and environmentalist.
Though the district administration has launched a series of programmes, including the pre-monsoon sanitation drive, to check spreading of vector-borne diseases in the district, the alleged lethargic attitude on the part of the local bodies concerned has been posing hurdles in its implementation, alleged an official on conditions of protecting his anonymity.
The National Rural Health Mission has allotted Rs 10,000 each to various wards in all the 54 panchayats and three municipalities in the district for sanitation drive. In many cases, various panchayats have reportedly utilised the money for supplying bleaching powder to the households by engaging Kudumbasree Mission members, it is alleged.
Dr Anithakumari said the Health department has deployed three mobile healthcare units in the district and sufficient number of health workers as part of an intensive drive against viral fever and other vector-borne and water-borne diseases.