M A I N   N E W S

Punjab failed to act timely
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 6
The Central team, which visited Punjab to look into an upsurge in dengue cases, has indicted the state government for failing to take timely action, which it maintains, could have drastically checked the number of dengue cases recorded at 3,078 till now.

National Vector-Borne Diseases Control Programme deputy director Kalpana Baruah told The Tribune that the state government had been unable to start a mass programme to control the disease despite reports of an upsurge in cases.

Dr Baruah, who toured cities in Punjab, particularly Ludhiana, said steps were not taken to stop transmission and that even now the Health Department was stressing on fogging alone. She said what was needed was ensuring community involvement. “In Ludhiana, mosquito breeding was observed in almost all houses visited by me”, she said, adding that the transmission of disease was still not being controlled effectively even though the disease management service being provided by hospitals was adequate.

Dr Baruah, however, clarified that dengue had not taken the form of an epidemic in Punjab. She said Ludhiana had earlier also been reporting dengue cases and that 1,100 cases had been reported from the city in 2005.

According to the latest figures given by the deputy director, malaria, Dr V.S. Mohi, there have been 17 deaths due to dengue till now with 11 deaths being reported from Ludhiana alone. He said the most number of 2,028 cases of dengue had been reported from Ludhiana.

The Punjab Civil and Medical Services Association (PCMS), headed by Dr M.S. Randhawa, today claimed that there was an upsurge in dengue cases because of lack of coordination between the Health Department and the Local Bodies Department. He said, not aware of the gravity of the situation, Health Department officials were giving statements that a decrease in temperature would take care of the problem, instead of tackling it head on.

Meanwhile, health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla stated that help was being taken from other departments to set up district-level task forces to handle the disease. She also issued guidelines for health officers in the Malwa belt from where dengue cases had been detected recently.

The minister said more public awareness was also being created on the preventive measures. She said medicines, diagnostic kits and blood platelets were being made available at hospitals. Fogging had already been done in localities in various districts where dengue cases had been detected, she added.



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