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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dengue cases double in 3 years, malaria rises 71%

City Laid Low As Cholera Too Rears Its Head

Mumbai: The city is fast becoming a hotbed for ailments and diseases. From dengue to malaria and even cholera, sensitive diseases are on the rise, putting at risk the lives of nearly 1.24 crore Mumbaikars. 

    Official data from civicrun hospitals alone show a 176% rise in dengue cases in 2011-12, while the number of those affected by malaria saw a 71% increase from 2008-09. Cholera cases—178, a rise of 85%—add to the medical nightmare that's been officially recorded. While experts are surprised by the cholera cases, BMC officials admit that it has been kept under wrapsas its mere occurrence could attract international travel sanctions. Cholera is highly infectious and can spread within the community in a few hours. 
    What is even more worrying is that these figures 
could just be the tip of the iceberg as it does not take into account people getting treated at private hospitals and clinics, according to Praja Foundation that surveyed around 15,000 households in the city. 'Survey raises many red flags' 
Mumbai: Praja Foundation, an NGO, conducted a survey of 15,000 households in the city to determine the state of the citizens' health. In its white paper, Praja said that if private healthcare services were taken into account, an estimated 3.9 lakh people were affected by malaria in 2011-12, or in other words there were 148 cases per 1,000 households. The official figure is only 29,828 cases of malaria but there were 64 deaths reported in 2011 alone. 
    Dr Hemant Thacker, who consults at Jaslok and Breach Candy Hospitals, said the reason why dengue cases have been going up was due to the virus that spreads the disease. "Dengue is caused by 
a virus, while malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium. Though the lifespan of a virus is only 5-15 days, due to sudden weather changes, the virus remains active causing dengue," he said, adding that the BMC has been able to control malaria cases in the city. 
    "Our report on the state of health of Mumbai raises several red flags. The survey revealed that more than 30% 
of households spend 11% or more of their annual income on hospitals and medical costs. The survey also shows that almost 80% Mumbaikars did not have a medical insurance. Also, 75% of Mumbaikars use private sources, hence, there is a need for a strong mechanism to collect data from them." said Nitai Mehta, founder trustee of Praja Foundation. 
    BMC health officer Dr Arun Bamne said malaria and diarrhoea come under non-notifiable diseases, meaning the private hospitals do not notify the BMC when they get patients suffering from these ailments. "We have not received the Praja Foundation report yet, so it will not be right to comment on the report," he said.


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