ASIA/INDIA - Delhi in the grip of dengue, the government asks religions for help

Friday, 16 September 2016 healthcare   diseases   local churches  


New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - Dengue alarm in the Indian capital. Viral fever transmitted by infected mosquitoes have hit the city and health authorities fear an epidemic could be catastrophic, in a city with 21 million inhabitants. At least 1,158 cases of dengue fever have been officially reported in September, 390 of which were registered in the first 10 days of the month. Other 1,440 patients are suffering from chikungunya, another similar viral disease, which is also transmitted by mosquitoes, for a total of more than 2,500 cases. The infection marks an increase of more than 50% of cases compared to the count of a week ago. In August, the cases were 652 in all.
In a public appeal, the government of Delhi sought the support of religious institutions in the city to widely spread - through Hindu, Buddhist temples and Christian churches - the campaign to control the spread of the two diseases.
"Two of my co-workers are suffering from chikungunya. The campaign launched by the federal government does not seem to work" refers to Fides Fr. Mathew Suresh, OFM Cap, Director of the magazine "Indian Currents". "There is poor hygiene out of public hospitals and also inside. Meanwhile the state government of Delhi, the municipal authorities and the federal government blame each other with regards to the responsibilities for garbage pick up", continues Fr. Mathew. "At the base it must be said that among the people there is no mentality on the hygiene and cleanliness of public places" he concludes.
The situation is alarming because "now it seems that every person you talk to has a relative or acquaintance who has dengue", notes Jose Kavi, director of "Matters India", religious information web portal based in Delhi. Kavi sees that the institutional conflict is slowing down measures that are urgent: the conflict between the governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, head of the National Capital Territory, and the ruling party in the city, the Aam Aadmi party, led by Arvind Kejriwal.
"Such conflict blocks public administration", says Kavi, with serious repercussions on health emergency management.
Even last year, the city was on alert for the incredible total figure of 15,867 cases of dengue - the worst in 20 years - with 60 deaths. In 2015, August and September had seen respectively 778 and 6,775 cases, while October had recorded 7,283 cases. In 1996, an epidemic of dengue broke out in Delhi, with approximately 10,252 cases and 423 deaths reported. (PA-SD) (Agenzia Fides 16/09/2016)