BMC health department staff seek exemption from poll duty

‘Dry spell after monsoon will result in a deluge of diseases’

August 09, 2019 01:11 am | Updated 01:11 am IST - Mumbai

Crucial job: BMC’s field staff are required to be active for fogging to curb spread of diseases after the rains.

Crucial job: BMC’s field staff are required to be active for fogging to curb spread of diseases after the rains.

Staff members from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) health department have requested the civic body to exempt them from election duty during the Assembly polls in October.

The staff members said that a dry spell following the heavy downpour in the city will result in a deluge of diseases and it would be necessary for the health department to be fully active. Additional municipal commissioner Ashwini Joshi has directed authorities in all wards against nominating health department staff for poll duty.

BMC’s executive health officer Dr. Padmaja Keskar said that the monsoon and post-monsoon periods are when the city records high transmission of diseases. “We need all staff members on the job during this time,” said Dr. Keskar. The city records a surge in viral fever, dengue, malaria, leptospirosis, hepatitis, and gastroenteritis cases during the monsoon and post-monsoon periods.

Breeding of mosquitoes is also very high as stagnant water accumulates across the city. The field staff from the insecticide department are required to be most active for fogging and spraying insecticides to curb breeding.

Nearly 5,000 field staff members are active in undertaking house-to-house case detection and directing symptomatic patients to health centres. The duties of the health staff are crucial in early detection of diseases and help reduce mortality rates.

“Any interruption in this activity will result in an increase in hospitalisations,” said Dr. Santosh Revankar, deputy executive health officer. He said Ms. Joshi has directed all assistant commissioners to nominate staff from other departments for poll duty.

Non-health staff have been nominated in wards C, D, R Central, M East, M West and S after they received requests for nominations for election duty. “On poll day, if there is a dire need, the health staff may be appointed on duty,” said Dr. Keskar.

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