By Anuradha Dutta, Kolkata, Apr 13 IBNS | 6 months ago

While Malaria and Kala-azar cases fell sharply, Dengue cases and deaths recorded a sharp rise in West Bengal in recent years, according to a report released here by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the state government.


The statistics are from the results of a recently conducted Joint Monitoring Mission on Vector Borne Diseases (VBDs), here on the occasion of World Health Day.

Present at the event on Tuesday last were principal secretary of health and family welfare department, director of health services and ex-officio secretary and other senior officials of health and municipal affairs department.

The representatives from WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and other civil societies were present among other stakeholders.

The Joint Monitoring Mission aimed to examine the progress made in curbing VBDs, identify challenges, provide state of the art advice on strategic issues, including how best to improve the integration of VBDs with the general health system in the country.

The report presented data from year 2006 to 2013. Malaria which had 159,646 cases in 2006 showed year on year decrease with 34,682 cases reported in 2013. Deaths due to Malaria in 2006 was 203, which has shown an impressive fall to 16 in 2013.

Kala-azar fell from 1843 cases in 2006 to 756 in 2009, but rose sharply to 1,475 in 2010. However, the instances of this VBD had been declining and was recorded at 595 last year. Kala-azar claimed 10 lives in 2006, while in 2009 and 2010 there have been no deaths due to this disease. Two people have succumbed to the disease in 2013.

Dengue has increased at an alarming rate from more than five times than it was in the 2006 from 1064 to 5920 in the span of eight years. Six Dengue deaths were reported in the state in 2013.

Chikungunya effected 19,316 people in 2007 falling slightly to 17898 people in the following year 2008. In 2013 only 20 people were reported to have suffered from this disease, however no deaths have been reported to occur due to Chikungunya in the monitoring period.

Japanese Encephalitis, one of the most dreaded vector borne diseases, affected 145 people and claimed 16 lives in 2013. The figures have gone up and down between 2006 and 2013 with a sudden spike in 2011 when it effected 140 individuals. The report shows deaths due to Japanese Encephalitis have remained fairly in the state when compared to Malaria.

The report conclude decreased cases of Malaria and Kala azar over the years,increased reporting of Dengue, Chikungunya and Japanese Encephalitis cases with year wise variations.

According to the report newer districts have reported instances of Dengue, Chikungunya and Japanese Encephalitis.

This is the first time that a national health programme review has used a mixed approach of evaluating both disease control and health systems issues.

The review addressed critical functions such as stewardship, procurement, health financing and service coverage that are fundamental aspects of the health system in providing VBD control services.

A discussion was conducted which deliberated at length India's strategy for achieving pre-elimination status of malaria.

Speaking about the World Health Day, Dr Nata Menabde, WHO representative to India said, "The World Health Day campaign, 'small bite: big threat', brings renewed focus on prevention and control, of VBDs."

"It is only through strengthening of health systems with effective stewardship, enhanced collaboration across agencies, sectors, and all levels of government, and implementation of regulatory mechanisms that the challenge of vector-borne diseases in India can be addressed," she added.

In addition, the issue of dengue as a major public health problem was also discussed, including measures such as behaviour change communication and effective intersectoral coordination that India should undertake to curb the emergence of dengue.

Discussion focused on strengthening vector control measures within the VBD programme, especially for improving covering and enhance service delivery.

The important issue of civil society contribution to community empowerment in order to achieve universal health coverage for VBDs was also addressed.

(Posted on 13-04-2014)

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