The health and local bodies departments in Punjab government have claimed to be on high alert to deal with the increasing number of dengue cases but a close look at their measures, reveals laxity at several levels, which has even led to protests in some parts of the state.
The Indian Express did a ground check and found that the health as well as municipal authorities need to step up their efforts to initiate preventive measures as well as to provide affordable medical care.
With the number of dengue patients increasing, panic has set in among residents of the region. In Khanna, BJP councillors staged a protest on Wednesday over sanitary conditions. They were accompanied by family members of patients who had died due to suspected dengue fever. Since the municipal council president in Khanna is from the Congress, the BJP has been blaming the opposition party for the poor sanitation in the city.
The BJP councillors have now given a two-day ultimatum to the Congress MC president, Vikas Mehta, saying that they will intensify their stir if immediate steps are not taken to prevent dengue. This even as Local Bodies Minister Anil Joshi is from the BJP and it is his department which is coordinating with the municipal corporations and councils for control of dengue.
At Bhadaur in Barnala district, hundreds of residents staged a protest on the main road demanding more staff to handle patients. They sat on a dharna and blocked traffic on the Bhadaur -Barnala road along with the body of 21-year-old Neetu, who died of high fever in the city civil hospital on Wednesday.
Though the victim was not a confirmed patient of dengue, residents still complained that the hospital did not even have a single specialist doctor. Nearly 141 patients have tested positive in Ludhiana and MC authorities revealed that they have issued more than 500 challans to residents across the city after aedes aegypti larvae was found in their houses or offices.MC authorities claimed that a total of 13 large fogging machines and 85 small machines are operational in the city for fogging operations in two shifts.
“We are spreading awareness but our staff cannot reach each and every house. The residents themselves also need to understand that basic cleanliness is mandatory,” Civil Surgeon Dr Renu Chatwal said.
Lack of staff and equipment in civil hospitals and people complaining about high charges for platelets kit by private hospitals are some of the problems afflicting the anti-dengue drive in Jalandhar. The municipal corporation had conducted fogging only in some interior parts of the city while the suburbs have been completely ignored.
While three persons have reportedly died of dengue in Doaba region, around 300 suspected patients of dengue have been reported in four civil hospitals of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala districts, of whom, 210 have so far tested positive.
It is learnt that only economically poor families have been coming to civil hospitals to seek treatment while well-to-do patients opt for private hospitals due to poor facilities in the civil hospitals.
As per figures available, around 82 dengue patients were reported in Jalandhar civil hospital, 47 at Nawanshahr, around 30 at Kapurthala and 47 in Hoshiarpur. According to sources in Jalandhar Civil Hospital as many as 30 patients with low platelets report every day.
As per information gathered by The Indian Express, two patients died in August in Kapurthala and five were referred to other hospitals because the hospital does not even have a Single Donor Platelets (SPD) extraction machine, the best method to transfer the platelets to dengue patients. Instead, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) method is being used, which is longer, less effective and wastes blood from which platelets have been separated.
Despite constant influx of patients, the highly inadequate eight-bed dengue isolation ward at the civil hospital has forced authorities to convert the 30-bedded ENT ward into a dengue isolation unit.
Preventive measures to stop dengue from spreading are completely absent in Amritsar. Authorities have been jolted into action only after deaths were reported here. As per the records of the health department, 82 suspected cases of dengue have been found in Amritsar and two deaths have been reported.
“Dengue breakout is more intensive than last year. We launch a drive to curb dengue in the areas wherever a case is reported. First part of the drive is fogging and officials even go inside the homes in the infected area for fogging,” said Dr Jai Singh, civil surgeon Amritsar. Dr Singh said that 40 dengue cases had been found in urban areas and 42 cases have been detected in rural areas.
(With Raakhi Jagga in Ludhiana, Anju Agnihotri Chaba in Jalandhar and Kamaldeep Brar in Amritsar)