7 June 2012
124 malaria, dengue deaths in two years, but PMC says 2
Pune: As many as 124 people died due to malaria and dengue in Pune city over the last two years, a reply sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed.
However, the PuneMunicipal Corporation (PMC) has been maintaining that the two diseases claimed only two lives over the same period.
Activist Vihar Durve, who filed the RTI application with the birth and death registration office here, said that the reply showsthat 42 people had died of malaria and 82 of dengue in the last two years. In 2010, there were 10 deaths due to malaria and 14 due to dengue. In 2011, 32 people died of malaria while dengue claimed 68 lives, states the ‘cause of death’ report sought by Durve.
The municipal corporation has a different take. “As per our records, malaria and dengue claimed one life each in 2010. There is no death due to either disease in 2011,” said Vaishali Jadhav, in-charge of the civic body’s insect department. Jadhav took charge of the department a month back. When contacted, city health chief S T Pardeshi, medical officer of health (MoH) at the PMC, said, “The discrepancy is definitely alarming. We will issue a show-cause notice to the former in-charge of the insect department in this regard and seek an explanation.”
Municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak said, “We have to see the causes of death more closely. There may be multiple causes given in the death certificate. In the case of malaria, only cerebral malaria is fatal.”
Officials at the birth and death registration office, however, claim that there was a proper system in place to record computerized data regarding causes of death.
"Every cause of death has been given a code. Whenever a relative submits a doctor’s cause of death certificate, it is immediately put in our records with the help of the code given to the specific cause. If a doctor states in the death certificate that a person has died of malaria, we enumerate that death under the malarial death category," said Ramesh Chavan, in-charge of the birth and death registration office.
V D Khanande, joint director (malaria) of the state health department, strongly denounced the PMC health department’s approach. "We have been telling officials not to hide the figures of mosquito–borne diseases. We cannot initiate appropriate intervention till we know the exact proportion of the disease burden. This is a serious issue. I will personally investigate the matter. This only means that the PMC officials have been giving us false reports. We were under the impression that mosquito–borne diseases are very much under control in Pune city," he said.
According to figures from the country's National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), India records around 1,000 deaths every year due to malaria. The World Health Organisation, on the other hand, says that 15,000 people die of malaria annually in India.
A recent paper published in the British medical journal, Lancet, said that malaria kills 13 times more Indians every year than estimated so far by WHO. This means two lakh people under the age of 70 die of malaria every year. Of these, 90% of the deaths are in rural areas and 86% do not occur in any healthcare facility, according to the Lancet study. Experts felt the need to clearly define ‘clinical malaria’, ‘probable malaria’ and ‘confirmed malaria cases’ to avoid any bias in recording/ reporting of malaria morbidity and mortality.
Meanwhile, health activists attached to various NGOs said the number of malaria, dengue and chikungunya cases is just the tip of the iceberg. A majority of cases remain unreported, they said. Doctors also aver that malaria and dengue cases with private practitioners do not get reported to the civic body.
- RTI query revealed 42 people died of malaria and 82 of dengue in the last two years
- As per PMC records, malaria and dengue claimed one life each in 2010 and none in 2011
- We will issue a show-cause notice to the former in-charge of the insect department, says city health chief