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322 affected so far in the city claims the MCD

1,131 cases found in just 12 hospitals in spot check

DENGUE outbreak figures are being fudged to conceal details of the rapid spread of the disease in the Capital.

Officially, the city has reported 322 dengue cases so far. However, a spot check of 12 hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi showed 1,131 dengue cases at these hospitals alone.

This is merely indicative of the actual figures that could rise quickly in the coming days. There are 1,800 government and private hospitals in the Capital, of which 700 are registered.

In fact, Holy Family Hospital alone reported 500 cases from its vicinity. Other hospitals that M AIL T ODAY contacted to expose efforts to under- report dengue cases are Bansal Hospital in New Friends Colony, Mata Chanan Devi Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Max Healthcare at Saket, Max Healthcare at Patparganj, hospitals belonging to the Fortis Group, Jeewan Anmol Hospital, Swami Dayanand Hospital, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital.

Checks have revealed that after failing to control the rapid spread of dengue, which can be fatal, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi ( MCD) has taken the easy way out -- by trying to arm- twist some hospitals into hiding the true figures for dengue patients.

" We are under pressure from MCD inspectors to not report the dengue cases in our hospital. They want the numbers down to please their bosses as growing numbers from their area only reflect callousness on their part in keeping their area clean. This is one of the main reasons why MCD figures are so low," said the owner of a private nursing home from West Delhi who did not want to be named.

The MCD is the designated authority for maintaining a record of all notified diseases in Delhi through its municipal health officer.

" The actual number of cases might be much higher than the cases with the MCD because many patients are being treated in a private set- up. There is no official notification to these clinics or nursing homes to inform the MCD about the cases. Many patients might have died due to dengue but their cases were not reported. There is a gross under reporting of the cases," said Dr Amit Verma, director, critical care at Fortis Escorts hospital.

Delhi's health minister Kiran Walia said, " The MCD is responsible for containing vector- borne diseases and they have really not been able to do this." Dengue is spread through the Aedes mosquito.

Every hospital that this newspaper contacted reported figures that revealed how a lid was kept on the truth.

Holy Family Hospital is located near Jamia Nagar -- the hospital announced at a press briefing that 500 cases were reported from the area -- and is the worst hit in all of Delhi. Moolchand hospital has reported 35 cases of dengue.

Lady Hardinge Medical College has witnessed an outbreak of dengue on the college campus. " There have been 11 cases of dengue on the college campus. We destroyed the dengue larvae and conducted an awareness programme in the college," said Dr R. N. Singh, chief medical officer of the New Delhi Municipal Council ( NDMC).

Indraprastha Apollo has received 41 cases of dengue to date, while Max Healthcare at Saket had 197 cases. There were 27 patients at Max Healthcare's Patparganj branch. Fortis hospitals receive 10 to 12 cases each day, Jeewan Anmol hospital in Maharani Bagh has received more than 12 cases so far. The Red Cross Hospital in east Delhi has received two cases.

Several cases have also been reported from government hospitals. Swami Dayanand hospital has received more than 25 cases, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan hospital has received 45 cases, and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya hospital has received 25 cases.

" We get dengue cases regularly. Many patients don't go for the confirmatory tests so they can't be reported. I have seen three dengue cases today ( Thursday)," said Dr Manoj Aggarwal, senior resident at Swami Dayanand Hospital in Shahdara.

Dr K. K. Aggarwal of Moolchand Hospital said some dengue cases go unreported because the test that confirms the disease costs Rs 1,500. Many patients with suspected dengue are unable to afford the test.

Concern over the dengue outbreak was expressed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, BJP deputy leader Gopinath Munde said Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi were the worst affected.

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has reviewed the situation and asked officials to intensify measures for prevention and control of mosquito breeding. The ministry will coordinate with MCD officials to contain the dengue outbreak in Delhi.

Some hospitals have taken it upon themselves to fight the disease. Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital is one of these. " We have established our own task force to combat dengue. We have hired PWD engineers with MCD officials. We have stopped all the fountains in the hospital so as to avert any water logging where the dengue larvae could grow," said Dr Amit Banerjee, medical superintendent of the hospital.

Meanwhile, the MCD has prosecuted over 44,000 persons. Action has been initiated against some schools and colleges where evidence has reportedly been found of the dengue mosquito breeding.

Dr N. K. Yadav, municipal health officer, said that legal action had been initiated against a number of schools and colleges across the Capital for allegedly not adhering to rules and allowing breeding of the dengue mosquito.

State health minister Walia said it was time that MCD pulled up its socks to contain the spread of dengue and keep a count of the cases. She said it was the MCD's responsibility to maintain the count. " The government gives them sufficient funds ahead of the rainy season for the job," she said.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Aug 20, 2010
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