Dr Harsh Vardhan Reviewed Healthcare Preparedness in Delhi from Vector-Borne Diseases

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At this tough times, the health ministry is not ruling out any other possibility of seasonal viral diseases. Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare chaired a high-level meeting through video conferencing (VC) to review the preparedness for prevention and control of Vector-Borne Diseases (VBDs) (Malaria, Dengue, and Chikungunya) in Delhi.

Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Smt. Rekha Shukla gave a presentation on the situation of Dengue, Chikungunya and Malaria in Delhi as well as steps being taken to control these diseases. During the presentation, she informed that the Dengue (Category –I) cases start in the month of July, a spike in October and ebb down in November and December. She also provided information about Chikungunya and Malaria and also suggested effective strategies to combat these VBDs.Action plan for inter-sectoral coordination required, involving the State Government, Municipal Corporations, Central and State Government hospitals, Railways and the Cantonment Board was also discussed.

Stressing on the importance of widespread awareness on prevention and control of the BDS, the Union Health Minister urged all stakeholders to undertake awareness drives through active community participation and cooperation of all stakeholders such as RWAs, shopkeepers’/traders’ associations while considering all the precautionary measures being taken against COVID-19.

The Health Minister said, “Among the specific target-oriented modified strategies that need to be put in place for combating malaria, dengue and chikungunya, our main focus should be on controlling the vector itself.” “Simple steps can be taken for keeping the surroundings clean and free from Aedes mosquitoes. Stagnant water should be checked and larva sites should be effectively neutralized. The success of the Vector Control Programme is related to community participation and ownership”, he said. He further added, “Commitment at all levels is essential for prevention and control of these diseases and it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that we don’t create an environment for mosquitoes to breed.”

Dr. Harsh Vardhan further said that VBD problem is a perennial one and this year it has come at the time when the whole country is grappling with the outbreak of COVID-19. He further stated, “There was a severe outbreak of Dengue in Delhi in 2015, which affected nearly 16,000 people and killed 60. As compared to that situation, presently we are in a better position as around 50 dengue cases have reported so far in the city. However, we cannot afford to be complacent in our approach in our fight against Dengue.”

Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Community support is critical to stop the chain of vector transmission. There is a need to promote awareness among the community about the prevention and control of VBDs.” He stated, “It should be a collective effort and all three tiers of governance – Central Government and its agencies at national level, State Governments at state level and local bodies at grass root level – should converge in their efforts to mobilize the community for this public health activity.”

Commenting on the commendable role played by school children in previous years in creating awareness about VBDs and checking its spread, he said, “Earlier school-children played a very important role in creating awareness. But in the present scenario where all the education institutions, colleges and schools are closed due to COVID-19 outbreak, most of the school-children are at home.” Exhorting the people to come forward, he said, “During this lockdown 3.0, everyone should chip in to keep their surroundings clean and see that stagnant water is not accumulated in the trash or in used tyres, flower pots, vases, coolers, etc.” “All the citizens need to rise to the occasion and don the role of a super hero themselves and become ‘Swasthya Veer’ for combating the vector borne diseases themselves while fighting against the COVID-19”, he added.He further stated that the role of citizen has become really important in volunteering for checking the breeding sites herself/himself in her/his surroundings, especially in COVID-19 situation, where the breeding checkers are not allowed by the residents to enter the premises thereby affecting the whole process.

Talking about the cases of Malaria, Dr. Harsh Vardhan suggested that Malaria should be made a notifiable disease. The Health Minister of Delhi, Shri Satyendra Jain assured that the same would be done immediately. It was also suggested that all hospitals, including the private ones, should work in synergy for VBDs to ensure that the Government and private interventions and efforts to prevent/ cure these diseases, are in tandem.

Union Minister urged all the representatives from the Central government hospitals to not neglect the cases of VBDs as there is no vaccine available and only through preventive measures, the fight can be fought successfully. He further said that the government is duty bound to provide all logistical and technical support to the Delhi Government in terms of surveillance and diagnostic kits to strengthen their preparations. Also, protocol for training of doctors and paramedics can be shared with the Delhi government, if required.

The Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi, Shri Anil Baijal assured that the highest priority is being given to prevention and control of Dengue, Malaria and Chikungunyain Delhi, and all efforts are being made in this direction.

The MoS(Health & Family Welfare)Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Health Minister of Delhi, Shri Satyendra Jain, Ms. Preeti Sudan, Union Health Secretary, DGHS, Government of India; Chairman, NDMC; All Commissioners of three Municipal Corporations of Delhi;Health Secretary, GNCTD; DMs of all Delhi districts, Heads/Medical Superintendents of the Central Government and State Government hospitals in Delhi; Senior officials from Union Health Ministry and National Vector Borne Diseases Programme (NVBDCP); Senior officials from the Government of NCT of Delhi and representatives of Municipal Corporations of Delhi and other officials were also present.

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