After a consultation with the Tamil Nadu health officials on the outbreak of dengue, a five-member Central team was of the opinion that 40 deaths from more than 12,000 cases was “very minimal”.
The team comprised doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC), and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), New Delhi. It is in Tamil Nadu to take stock of the health situation in the State due to the outbreak of dengue.
After a meeting that lasted more than two-and-a-half hours with Tamil Nadu Health Minister, C. Vijaya Baskar, Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan and other officials of the department, Ashutosh Biswas, professor, Department of Medicine, AIIMS, said, “More than 12,000 cases have been reported so far. Death is 40…it is very minimal death. Nothing to create panic here.” He also told reporters that measures to control the disease were being strictly followed by the Tamil Nadu government.
The team visited the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, Institute of Child Health, and a private hospital in Porur to get a first-hand account of the treatment procedures. The team members also tried a sample of the nilavembu kudineer that is being administered to those with symptoms of dengue.
A few members of the Central team will visit Salem and Chengalpattu on Saturday, while the others will check hospitals and private facilities in and around Chennai.
Prof. Biswas said the team would also try to understand why there were dengue deaths after patients were admitted to hospitals. “We are trying to understand whether it is due to medical negligence, or late referrals, or secondary infections…,We need to look into those and finally give some opinion. We are here to support and strengthen the system in Tamil Nadu for better management and patient care,” he said.
The Central team members said while awareness about dengue in Tamil Nadu was very high, the habit of storing water in drums needed to be changed. “Controlling dengue is not in the hands of the government, but in the hands of the public. It happens due to water collection… If you change your habit of collecting fresh water in your house, we can eradicate dengue. Eradicating mosquito breeding sites is the key to eradicating dengue,” he said.
Dr. Vijayabhaskar said Tamil Nadu has sought ₹256 crore from the Centre to strengthen efforts to fight dengue. “We gave the team a detailed presentation during the meeting and apprised them of our measures that are being undertaken on a war-footing,” the Minister said.
The State has sought funds for increasing the number of personnel, especially health inspectors, and also to purchase fogging machines, he said.