P.S. Suresh Kumar

Computerised rumour reporting system functioning round-the-clock in Kanyakumari

Nagercoil: The disease potential is a great challenge to the Department of Public Health and Preventive medicine.

The department with its existing infrastructure had already taken necessary steps to prevent the occurrence of possible outbreaks of vector borne diseases, said the Deputy Director for Health, M. Madusoodhanan.

Speaking to The Hindu he said that the department has geared up he official machinery to undertake preventive measures to control the outbreak of diseases, if any, in the ensuing rainy season. As part of various measures taken by the department under the ‘Integrated Disease Surveillance Project’ (IDSP) the services of the District Surveillance Unit have been fully utilised to detect and forecast the disease outbreaks.

Under the IDSP, two surveillance units manned by separate trained project staff were functioning, one at the office of Deputy Director of Health Services, Nagercoil and the other at Kanyakumari Government Medical College Hospital at Asaripallam with videoconferencing facility.

Public-private partnership programme

For the smooth flow of disease related information a memorandum of understanding has been signed with private sentinel hospitals and laboratories under the public-private partnership programme. As such 40 private and 316 government-reporting units were regularly reporting about the incidence of communicable diseases. These reports were analysed at the district level to detect early warning signals and to forecast disease outbreaks and information was passed on to the local health authority to initiate immediate responses.

Mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, chikungunya and filariasis were prevalent in the district.

Outbreak of dengue and chikungunya were reported during 2003 and 2006 respectively.

The adult mosquitoes responsible for the transmission of dengue and chikungunya breeds only in pure and rain water collections in containers of natural and artificial origin found in the domestic and peri-domestic habitats.

The natural and artificial breeding sources for Aedes mosquito species were abundant in the district. The collection vials of a vast majority of rubber plantations contributed mainly to the Aedes breeding.

In addition, the usual water holding containers such as cement tanks, cisterns, plastic and metal drums and discarded articles holding at least some amount of rain water such as glass, plastic or rubber containers, grinding stones, animal feeding bowls, tyres could also serve as breeding habitats for Aedes mosquitoes.

A computerised rumour reporting system has been functioning round-the-clock at the office of the Deputy Director of Health Services, Nagercoil. Reports were being received from the public, sentinel centres, ICDS centres, volunteers, elected representatives and government departments. Based on the information, immediate field investigations, door-to-door surveillance and suitable containment measures would be initiated.

Moreover three zonal level teams headed by an entomologist of the Department of Health had already been formed at Nagercoil, Padmanabhapuram and Kuzuthurai. These teams were equipped with vehicle, vector control equipments, insecticides and manpower to assess the vector density and to carry out source reduction, larviciding and fogging activities.

As a long-term measure, indoors residual insecticidal sprays were being carried out in the malaria endemic villages, selected based on the disease indices during the peak transmission season (ie from June to December).

800 rumour reports

So far 800 rumour reports have been received which were investigated in the field, necessitating fogging operations in 170 villages by involving the local body. Totally 212 serum samples were collected and analysed by the Zonal Entomological Team and Government Medical College Hospital, Nagercoil and 17 cases were serologically proved positive for dengue. Necessary prevention and control activities were carried out in the affected areas, said the Deputy Director for Health.