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Government is being an ostrich

The dengue menace in the national capital continues to cause havoc and spread anxiety amongst the Delhiites, but that matters little to the poll-bound Sheila Dikshit government. The disease is not only underreported but also the data available does not even begin the address the ferocity of the problem in the city. So far, the government sources have only provided 766 confirmed cases, that too during the last week of September, while reports in the national media have been telling a different story altogether. 

Millennium Post’s investigation into the seriousness of the contagion has yielded that almost 2,092 cases have been reported from the ‘nodal agencies’ for dengue registration and treatment, these being ‘sentinel hospitals’ specifically instructed by the state and central governments to carry out and maintain extensive records of the spread and extent of the health hazard in the city. Naturally, these figures are misleading, since most of the times, denizens of Delhi end up visiting the nearby clinics and hospitals to seek medical care and advice, instead of taking the pain of going to the government hospitals, thanks to their rather ‘inhospitable’ environment. Mostly, such cases of dengue, even when they are confirmed, go unreported and are not included in the government database. Clearly, the government has done little to improve mechanisms of data collection in order to make them more accurate and indicative of the actual situation on the ground, with the approximate figures to reflect the condition of those affected by this serious epidemic. 

Although the data available seems to indicate that North DMC has a far bigger share of the dengue-affected patients, with over 1,026 reported cases, as compared to 540 in south DMC, 435 from East DMC and 52 from NDMC areas, there’s very little that the state administration has enforced to bring down the level of such incidences. Moreover, instead of sprucing up the sanitation facilities in the city, the government and the Congress party are busy playing dirty politics over the allocation of funds to ensure better and safer sanitation amenities. It is appalling that despite the North DMC’s justified demand of Rs 250 crore to bolster its abysmal sanitation facilities and eliminate sewage-related problems, what the Congress has been doing is to criticise Narendra Modi for having raised the slogan ‘First toilets, then Temples.’ 

Even though it was the rural development minister Jairam Ramesh who first talked about having toilets near religious centres in the rural and urban areas so as to enable maximum penetration of safe sanitation facilities and practices, especially for the women, the Congress has done little implement such schemes, including in the national capital, which still suffers from unbelievable sanitary inadequacies. 

While the mayors of the municipal corporations lament the lack of fund disposal, the dengue menace keeps spreading its havoc, while extra-medical efforts to control the infection, such as fogging, spraying and awareness campaigns to prevent accumulation of water, drains and sewers from staying open, etc, remain woefully short of what is required. And even the government dispensaries of the municipal bodies are equipped with instruments to carry out the Elisa Test for dengue diagnosis (not every clinic has them, of course), protocols are not followed to record and submit the collected data in time. Certainly, dengue must not become the monsoon’s parting gift this season.         

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