Staff Reporter

Report prepared as part of Health Department project

ALAPPUZHA: The failure of the Health Department to act on a report prepared as a part of its own Comprehensive Communicable Diseases Control Programme (CCDCP), which foretold the possibility of an epidemic outbreak in Cherthala taluk, seems to have led to the chikungunya outbreak.

More than 120 persons died and thousands were being affected in the epidemic outbreak in Cherthala. Though the number of suspected chikungunya deaths came down now, the disease was not yet fully controlled.

The CCDCP was a joint programme of DMO (Health), National Institute of Communicable Disease and Mararikulam North grama panchayat. The possibility of an epidemic outbreak was predicted in the report on public health prepared by the National Service Scheme of Cherthala S.N. College as a part of the project. The report noted that the density of Aedes Egypty mosquitoes that spread chikungunya was 35 in parts of Cherthala taluk.

According to medical experts, mosquito density of 35 as found by the report has ominous portends as only mosquito densities below 10 are considered safe. Mosquito density above that pointed to a situation conducive for outbreak of vector-borne diseases. The report was prepared in 2005 and its copies were given to the DMO and other top officials of the department. The report points out that Alappuzha District Collector had convened a meeting of various departments, including health and agricultural department, by mid-2005 to discuss the increase in communicable diseases in the district which included dengue fever, leptospirosis, cholera and Japanese encephalitis despite various eradication programmes implemented here. Representatives of various local bodies and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases also participated in the meeting.

It was that meeting, which charted out a massive eradication programme named CCDCP and decided to implement it with the help of National Service Scheme (NSS). T. Pradip, programme officer of the NSS, offered to provide manpower. The department provided health inspectors for the project. Testing and identification of the mosquito larvae collected was done by the NICD.