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Kerala government faces opposition ire over spread of epidemics

The opposition Congress-led UDF on Tuesday accused the Left government in Kerala of failing to contain the spread of epidemics in the state.
Last Updated : 02 July 2024, 10:57 IST

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Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition Congress-led UDF on Tuesday accused the Left government in Kerala of failing to contain the spread of epidemics in the state as several communicable diseases were reportedly on the rise and staged a walkout in the Assembly demanding a discussion over the issue.

A large number of viral hepatitis cases reported in various parts of the state, especially in northern Malappuram district, prompted the opposition to come up with a demand for discussion over the matter during the zero hour.

They alleged that the southern state was fast becoming a hub of all epidemics, but Health Minister Veena George rejected the charges and gave a detailed reply on various measures being taken by the government to contain the spread of diseases.

Later, Speaker A N Shamseer rejected the leave for the motion based on the minister's reply that the situation was under control, prompting the UDF to stage a protest walkout in the House.

Earlier, George cited various reasons, including incessant rains throughout the year, climate changes, and density of population that turned Kerala into an "epidemiologically vulnerable hub."

But the health department has been taking year-long precautionary measures for the prevention of the disease and creating awareness about it, she said.

Such steps are being taken with the participation of local self-government institutions and the general public.

A rapid response team was formed to contain the spread of monsoon-related diseases and epidemics, and a ministerial level meeting was being conducted to review the situation monthly, she added.

As part of the initiatives, over 21,000 cleanliness drives were conducted across the state under the aegis of the Local Self Government Department.

The minister claimed that the effective interventions by the Health department have helped the state contain the dengue outbreak in Kerala during 2023–24, when many countries witnessed spread of the disease.

Quoting health experts, she also said that despite intense rains last month, the possible leptospirosis outbreak could also be contained so far in the state.

Referring to the viral hepatitis cases in Malappuram, the Health Minister said a special medical team has been deployed to contain their spread.

"The disease is completely under control in the places where it was reported."

At present, no one is admitted to the hospital for treatment in Vallikkunnu in Malappuram where a large number of hepatitis cases were reported recently.

If the figures from the past 10-15 years were taken into account, there seems to be no major rise in the fever cases in Kerala now, she added.

However, Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan rejected the claims of the Health Minister and said the state has become an area prone to epidemics, which was unheard of so far.

Though climate change can be a common cause, the phenomenon is everywhere in the world, he pointed out.

Many diseases, including hepatitis, dengue fever, rat fever, shigella, and so on, are now reported in Kerala.

According to the government's Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (SDP), 12 lakh people have been affected by fever so far in the state in the present year, and of them, seven have died, Satheesan said.

He also alleged that the failure of the government to carry out the pre-monsoon cleanliness drive aggravated the situation.

The UDF members later staged a walkout in the House, agitated over the reluctance of the government to discuss the issue in the House.

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Published 02 July 2024, 10:57 IST

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