Dengue spirals within Bengaluru, govt scrambles

Dengue spirals within Bengaluru, govt scrambles

Faced with the dengue crisis spiralling out of control in the city, health officials are neck-deep in conducting a new study in other cities, which they believe will help yield answers on how to address the outbreak.

According to data provided by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, there has been a sharp uptake in dengue cases over the recent weeks, with the number of cases in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) wards significantly outstripping the total number of cases elsewhere in the state. Figures on Monday showed there were 3,393 people with dengue within BBMP limits, with a total of 1,926 elsewhere in the state.

Over the weekend, a further 442 cases were discovered in the city. State health officials also reported three deaths, one each in Ramanagara, Chitradurga and Dakshina Kannada.

The commissioner of health, Pankaj Pandey, explained that the inferences from the study, which will be completed in a few weeks’ time, will be recommended for implementation. This will alter how future outbreaks of vector-borne diseases like dengue will be addressed, he said. 

“Where Bengaluru is most deficient in controlling vector-borne-diseases is the lack of effective coordination between the BBMP and the office of the District Health Officer (Urban). 

BBMP’s chief health officer Dr Vijendra Bilaguli said the Palike has requested the transfer of 43 public health centres within city limits under the District Health Officer’s ambit to the Palike, which he said would help improve coordination.

“We are already working with the health department,” Dr Bilaguli said. “There have been meetings between the Palike and the health minister earlier this month, where these matters of cooperation were decided,” he said.

However, the elephant in the room, according to a medical officer, is the disparity in medical funding and healthcare workers in Bengaluru, when compared to Mumbai.

“Both cities are roughly comparable in population. Healthcare funding amounts to Rs 3,000 crore in Mumbai whereas funding in Bengaluru amounts to about Rs 500 crore. Furthermore, Mumbai has one urban public health centre for 50,000 people. In Bengaluru, that figure is one to one lakh. The number of health staff, such as the Asha workers are also low compared to Mumbai and Chennai,” the officer added.