Thursday May 24, 2018

Dengue stings Delhi as govt sleeps under opaque mosquito net

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“One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.”

~Joseph Stalin

As Aam Aadmi Party leader Kumar Vishwas awaits a personal call from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Dadri lynching (as a statement made in Bihar rally won’t do), which took place under UP government’s watch, a statistic appears in news items. It says that the dengue cases have crossed 10,000 mark in Delhi, the worst since 1996.

As we know, there is no clear statistics on whether the Aedes mosquito bites Hindus or Muslims, AAP government and leaders in Delhi appear least concerned. Unofficial death toll remains 41 this year as against the official 30. Another big scam that hospitals and government normally play is that they give any other reason for deaths but dengue.

People are said to have died of dengue but the certificate would say something else. Of course, I can quote (the often abused) journalistic sources, but I would rather say it is my wild assumption that it takes place in every hospital under government watch. Moreover, ready to doubt my own journalistic credibility, I am also saying I might be wrong.

Let’s move on and discuss dengue. The AAP government was sworn in on Valentine’s Day this year. It had campaigned raising issues of water logging, health, education, women safety and many more. It won with unheard majority of 67-3 only bettered in Sikkim, in recent times, where there was no opposition in 2009-14 assembly. So much romance, and promises so romantic.

AAP think tank VC and leader Ashish Khetan has given a statement where he claims that the Delhi government is working towards “complete abolition of dengue in the state.” He didn’t stop with this, rather tamed the fascination of us Indians with the word ‘international’, as he said that new measures that were being implemented at “international level” were being examined and reviewed.

What else can you want? The AAP government is planning to send a team to China to meet the scientists involved in the project, as per Ashish Khetan. He also welcomed any research that could alleviate dengue.

Let’s applaud Mr Khetan for the efforts that Delhi is making. The only question is what was the government doing all this long?

Was it not known to them that rainy seasons in Delhi result in dengue outbreak every year? Were they waiting for some Chinese scientists to let them know or did they think the Kejriwal majority should be enough for the Aedes mosquito to leave Delhi as Congress?

They, at least, have a vision as claimed in their Delhi election manifesto (refer to pages 20-21 for health infrastructure). Shouldn’t they be applauded for taking time and writing all those mathematics (in decimal points) on solving health issues?

What can one do when blaming the MCD is easier that the implementation of the mathematics?

The timing of the Khetan’s statement is also appropriate as, irrespective of what the Delhi government does, dengue cases would decline with the onset of winter. AK Gadhpahilay, medical superintendent of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, confirmed the same saying, “As winter arrives, dengue cases will see a decline.”

It is not as if the government is doing nothing. They proposed a 400% hike to the MLA salaries and allowances. They must be doing more things like fixing some 15 lakh CCTV cameras so that the dengue mosquitos are spotted and BJP ruled MCD is blamed on the same bus stop poster, where a part of ₹526 crore advertisement says that they doubled the health budget.

This AAP government could have done better. Water logging remains a painful issue. I believe, Arvind Kejriwal lost the notebook where he wrote the solution to these problems while campaigning.

One more reason comes to mind: Is it due to free clean water to common men? This is ridiculous, but hey, what isn’t?

The delegation to China and complete abolition of dengue sounds great. However, this might just be a time buying tactic before winter arrives and numbers decline. This is not my cynicism, but a valid concern.

The question still remains: what were they doing since the rains and 10,683 cases that came in this year?

The answer is: taking stock of situation; looking for ways to blame anyone but themselves; creating adverts with concerned tone of Arvind Kejriwal appealing the Aedes mosquitos to leave the city on humanitarian grounds; waiting for mosquitos to do a ‘ghar wapasi’ and colour their wings saffron as they ‘lynch’ a Muslim man…

Who knows!

PS: In another news, second death was recorded due to swine flu. We hope some research must be going on in the Delhi government offices.

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Dengue Vaccine Should Not Be Used Widely: UN Health Agency

UN Health Agency issued an important statement regarding the dengue vaccine

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Dengue vaccine.
A Manila Health officer shows off a pair of vials of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia after being recalled from local government health centers Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. The World Health Organization says the first-ever vaccine for dengue needs to be dealt with in "a much safer way," meaning that the shot should mostly be given to people who have previously been infected with the disease. VOA

The World Health Organization says the first-ever vaccine for dengue needs to be dealt with in “a much safer way,” meaning that the shot should mostly be given to people who have previously been infected with the disease.

In November, the vaccine’s manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, said people who had never been sickened by dengue before were at risk of developing a more serious disease after getting the shot.

After a two-day meeting this week, WHO’s independent vaccines group said it now had proof the vaccine should only be used “exclusively or almost exclusively in people who have already been infected with dengue.”

Also Read: Anti-dengue Antibody Drug May Neutralize Zika Virus

The U.N. health agency said a test should be developed so doctors would be able to quickly tell if people had previously been sickened by dengue – but the group acknowledged doing that so isn’t straightforward.

“We see significant obstacles in using the vaccine this way, but we are confident this also spurs the development of a rapid diagnostic test,” said Dr. Joachim Hombach, executive secretary of WHO’s expert group, during a news conference Thursday.

Representational image for dengue vaccination
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Sanofi said last year that doctors should consider whether people might have been previously infected with dengue before deciding whether they should risk getting immunized. The company said it expected to take a 100 million euro ($118 million) loss based on that news.

People who catch dengue more than once can be at risk of a hemorrhagic version of the disease. The mosquito-spread virus is found in tropical and sub-tropical climates across Latin and South America, Asia, Africa and elsewhere. It causes a flu-like disease that can cause joint pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash. In severe cases, dengue can result in breathing problems, hemorrhaging and organ failure.

About half the world’s population is at risk of dengue; WHO estimates that about 96 million people are sickened by the viral infection every year.

Also Read: Dengue fever may increase risk of stroke: Study

Following Sanofi’s announcement last year, the Philippines halted its dengue immunization program, the world’s first national vaccination program for dengue. The government also demanded a refund of more than 3 billion pesos ($59 million) from Sanofi and is considering further legal action.

In February, the Philippines said the vaccine was potentially linked to the deaths of three people: all of them died of dengue despite having received the vaccine.

The country imposed a symbolic fine of $2,000 on Sanofi and suspended the vaccine’s approval, charging that the drugmaker broke rules on how the shot was registered and marketed.

More than 730,000 children aged 9 and above in the Philippines have received at least one dose of the dengue vaccine, usually delivered in three doses.

There is no specific treatment for dengue and there are no other licensed vaccines on the market.  VOA

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