Large swathes of India have been laid low by vector borne disease. Chikungunya and dengue have now joined malaria in the list of endemic diseases Indians have come to dread.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Even as health systems across Indian states crumble under pressure, Sri Lanka just joined Maldives as the second South Asian country to eliminate malaria.
Our neighbours have shown it is possible to prevent this annual outbreak of misery.
To actualise this goal, we have to realign our healthcare priorities and emphasise preventive measures.
A robust public health system acts as the first line of defence by preventing outbreaks.
It also limits the damage of endemic disease.
India’s approach to healthcare needs to take a comprehensive view and pay more attention to broader determinants of health such as sanitation and safe drinking water.
Financial resources cannot be cited as a constraint as we even have a stand-alone Swachh Bharat cess to raise resources for sanitation. What we are short of is vision and accountability.
The economic damage due to endemic disease is visible in Delhi as infrastructure projects have slowed on account of a depleting labour force. It is compounded by a ubiquitous problem: wretched governance.
There is simply nowhere in urban India, in particular, where the buck stops. We cannot have smart cities, Swachh Bharat or relief from vector borne disease as long as we have dumbed down governance.
Accountability can be enforced only when there is a clear chain of command. Catchy slogans will not solve our problems. India’s politicians should learn from Sri Lanka and Maldives.
This annual outbreak of misery is easy to anticipate and entirely preventable.
But only if the political class can muster the will to act, instead of simply passing the buck from one party to another.
HOW CAN DENGUE FEVER BE PREVENTED?
Steps guided for prevention of Dengue Fever by Government
THE TIMES OF INDIA, MUMBAI/THANE; WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2016
THE TIMES OF INDIA, AHMEDABAD; FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2016
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