Lessons un­learnt

The gov­ern­ment needs to de­vise long-term strate­gies to pre­vent fre­quent dengue out­breaks

Down to Earth - - COVER STORY -

THealth Or­ga­ni­za­tion has listHE WORLD ed dengue as one of the 17 most ne­glected trop­i­cal diseases. And not with­out rea­son. Con­sider this. Be­tween 50 mil­lion and 100 mil­lion dengue cases are re­ported an­nu­ally from more than 100 en­demic coun­tries ev­ery year; al­most half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion is vul­ner­a­ble to dengue, but still drugs to treat the dis­ease or vac­cines to pre­vent it have not been de­vel­oped. Re­searchers and pol­i­cy­mak­ers say that the dis­ease never re­ceived ad­e­quate at­ten­tion be­cause it mostly af­fected the poor­est sec­tions of so­ci­ety.

But cli­mate change has changed all that. It has helped the dis­ease spread—the in­ci­dence of dengue has risen 30-fold in the past 50 years—and made large parts of the pop­u­la­tion sus­cep­ti­ble. Dengue can no longer be ig­nored. For in­stance, dur­ing the 2014 Foot­ball World Cup,Brazil used a fore­cast­ing method to de­ter­mine the risk of the dis­ease dur­ing the event be­cause more than three mil­lion Brazil­ian and in­ter­na­tional spec­ta­tors were ex­pected to be in the coun­try. The gov­ern­ment used a pre­dic­tion model de­vel­oped by the Univer­sity of Ex­eter and the Brazil­ian Cen­tre for Weather Forecast and Cli­mate Stud­ies to pre­dict the prob­a­bil­ity of the dis­ease for the 553 re­gions of Brazil.The model sug­gested that there was a prob­a­bil­ity of out­breaks in the north­east­ern cities of Na­tal, For­taleza and Re­cife. The Min­istry of Health and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties took cityspe­cific mit­i­ga­tion and con­trol ac­tions up to three months ahead of the World Cup. As a re­sult, the over­all re­ported dengue cases for 2014 were lower than the pre­vi­ous year’s. Such fore­casts can help pre­pare be­fore dengue sea­son each year.

Apart from pre­emp­tive mea­sures, coun­tries have also used bioen­vi­ron­men­tal strate­gies to check the spread of the dis­ease. Viet­nam, for in­stance,used a small crus­tacean,called Me­so­cy­clops as­peri­cor­nis, to con­trol dengue. This or­gan­ism has

Al­most half of the world's pop­u­la­tion is vul­ner­a­ble to dengue, but still drugs

to treat the dis­ease or vac­cines to pre­vent it have not

been de­vel­oped

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.