Enquiries by Deccan Herald revealed that there have been two deaths each in M S Ramaiah Hospital, Narayana Hrudayalaya, St John's Hospital and one each in Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health and Pristine Hospital. Sources in these hospitals said information related to the number of dengue deaths and other positive cases of dengue and chikungunya were being constantly shared with the BBMP health department.
According to Dr Shiva Prasad, consultant in charge at Narayana Hrudayalaya’s Medical ICU, two dengue deaths took place in his hospital. “We have our own laboratories to test blood samples and nearly 44 patients have tested positive for dengue. In fact, 26 of them had to be admitted to ICU as their platelet count had dropped drastically and they needed immediate medical attention,” he said.
Instead of acting on a war-footing and taking preventive steps, besides heightened awareness drives, BBMP officials are suppressing information related to the deaths either at government or private hospitals. The intended objective is not to stir panic among Bangalore’s residents, where as physicians Deccan Herald spoke to suggested that the civic authorities should launch an awareness and preventive drive rather than being cagey.
It was only when Deccan Herald made repeated enquiries and posed pointed questions that BBMP’s chief health officer Dr L T Gayatri half-heartedly admitted to some dengue deaths. “I am not denying that there have been deaths due to dengue fever. It could be that some patients visited private hospitals where their blood samples were tested,” a defensive Gayatri said.
“There could have been deaths, but the patients’ blood samples were not tested in the designated laboratories like National Institute of Virology (NIV), Public Health Institute (PHI) or at the Nimhans laboratory.”
Gayatri did not mind sharing information on the number of positive dengue and chikungunya cases, saying that as many as 183 dengue and 65 chikungunya cases were reported across the City.
But the BBMP preferred not to disclose the number of deaths even as it has spent lakhs of rupees on fogging and spraying areas with large scale mosquito menace.
With the BBMP exercising the choice that people must not know about deaths caused by dengue, the state health department and private hospitals are now following different criteria to confirm dengue cases, especially at a time when the stagnant pools of water during the monsoon can worsen the situation.
A year ago, Deccan Herald reported deaths due to dengue shock syndrome cases at one private hospital. At that time, the BBMP had cautioned the hospital that it must not disclose information related to dengue and chikungunya to the media. Since then, private hospitals have continued to follow the civic body’s instructions to the letter.
When approached, St John’s Hospital medical superintendent Dr George D’Souza refused to furnish details. He insisted that authorities at his hospital have forwarded dengue and chikungunya-related information to the BBMP.