Hyderabad’s battle against mosquitoes and dengue – Effective enough?

In the midst of Hyderabad’s fight against mosquitoes, a new Chief Entomologist Dr Rambabu took charge on Saturday after Dr V Venkateshwar was transferred to his parent department. The change comes even as the Indian Medical Association (IMA) slammed the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for not doing enough to prevent breeding of mosquitoes.

“They did not fumigate enough nor did the Mosquito Prevention Wing conduct special cleanliness drives,” said the IMA at a press conference in Hyderabad. That has resulted (according to the New Indian Express) in over 2700 cases of dengue (till 5 September), over 300 cases of Chikungunya and 1150 cases of malaria. And these figures do not include all the private hospitals in Hyderabad, which means the actual spread of the diseases is far more than is being reported officially. 

The GHMC says it is wrong to say it did not do enough fogging this season.

“We changed the drug this year. The present formulation does not give out a smell so the public perception is that anti-mosquito fogging is not taking place. That is going against us,” says Musharraf Ali Faruqui, Additional Commissioner, GHMC.

The other criticism against the GHMC is that with just 150 portable fogging machines, it is short of resources. Though GHMC used drones to help in fogging water bodies and even some residential localities, Dr Rambabu says fogging with Malathion has to be done very carefully as the smell can harm children. 

“We have a staff of 2090 in the Entomology department. We do fogging only in areas which report more positive cases of dengue or viral fever,” says Rambabu. Which begs the question if this reactionary approach is indeed the best way to fight the mosquito menace during the monsoon

How bad is the situation in Hyderabad even as the Telangana Health minister refuses to admit any deaths due to dengue.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. In this case, the proof of how bad the situation is lies in the fact that it is impossible to secure a bed in a hospital in Hyderabad now. Even if you work your contacts, the waiting period even for a patient in need of emergency care extends up to two to three hours.

An administrator of one of Hyderabad’s leading hospitals told me this is affecting its cleanliness protocols as there is little turnaround time for a hospital bed. This means the beds and rooms are not cleaned properly after a particular patient is discharged, encouraging the spread of infection to the next patient and his/her attender. 

The other issue is smaller hospitals are refusing to admit dengue patients unwilling to take the risk to their brand name in case of a tragedy. Most dengue cases in Hyderabad are therefore being referred to the bigger private facilities or government hospitals like Osmania Hospital putting more pressure on the beds, doctors and paramedical staff.

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