Mosquito bite hurts, but inaction stings more

Mosquito bite hurts, but inaction stings more
By: Author
31 December 2016

Mosquitoes ruled the roost, as healthcare buckled under their onslaught for the second consecutive year. The only change consecutive year. The only change this year was that chikungunya assumed epidemic proportions, from July to November, as it overtook dengue as the No. 1 viral, mosquito borne infection with Delhi's hospitals flooded with patients suffering from this debilitating disease.

Many of them died, too, but the government chose to pin the blame upon other concurrent medical complications in the patients, also called co-morbidities, for the deaths. Malaria, which claimed 17 lives, was another major surprise, while dengue caused at least six deaths.

The mosquito menace reignited the political slug fest and one upmanship between the AAP-led Delhi government and the municipal corporations led by BJP . "BJP is destroying the Prime Minister's Swachh Bharat initiative by keeping the city dirty. It is leading to illnesses, including those transmitted by mosquitoes," Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said.

The AAP government called a special session of the Delhi assembly to discuss dengue and chikungunya outbreaks, days after the Centre told the SC that it was the state's duty to keep the capital clean. For its part, AAP, which has 67 out of 70 MLAs in the assembly , held that preventing mosquito breeding was the responsibility of the civic bodies.

The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) put out the official figures for mosquito-borne diseases in Delhi, ascribing 9,661 infections to chikungunya, 4,337 to dengue, and 31 to malaria, as on Saturday , December 10. The corresponding figures for 2015 stood at 58 (chikungunya), 15,811 (dengue), and 54 (malaria).

One of the most enduring images from last year's dengue crisis was of CM Arvind Kejriwal conducting surprise inspections at Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital, followed by visits to other top medical facilities in the national capital. This time around, not only was the CM missing from Delhi at the time of the viral outbreak, almost the entire AAP cabinet was away--most of them campaigning in Punjab or Goa.

As for the Delhi health minister, Jain was in Rome, in the first week of September, to attend the canonisation of Mother Teresa. Even after a highly publicised public outcry , Jain returned to India only to campaign in the slums of Panaji and Betim in Goa, in the backdrop of posters proclaiming: "Shri Satyendar Jain is the brain behind the world-famous Mohalla Clinics in Delhi and many other public service initiatives."

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