This refers to the news report that the Tamil Nadu government has suspended the Chennai Corporation’s city health officer for alleged failure to monitor statistics with regard to cholera deaths (Aug. 14).

It is indeed a sad reflection of our times that even public health matters fall prey to local politics. The hasty suspension of the health officer who has been responsible for the Chennai Corporation’s far-reaching public health vision and also ironically for the setting up of reporting mechanisms appears to be a knee-jerk response, without taking into account the health officer’s track record of services to the city during several crises in the past. This is also likely to deter experienced and qualified public health professionals from working for civic bodies.

The Chennai Corporation has been very responsive and strong in managing outbreaks, carrying out door-to-door surveillance of communicable diseases and providing care and support for the elderly and alcoholic patients, to list a few of its achievements. It is all the more imperative that senior officials in the government stand by public health professionals and not allow them to become casualties in the political crossfire.

Dr. Nalini Krishnan,

Director, Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health (REACH), Chennai

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