Dengue situation in a Southern Indian state (Andhra Pradesh) – Gaps and opportunities in Community Awareness

  Who_029547_usedtyres_WHO_JGusmo
Photo: WHO/J.Gusmao. Used tyes are an ideal habitat and breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying dengue

Our guestblogger is Dr Manoj Aravind, a researcher in Community Medicine, Hyderabad, India and member of the health information forum HIFA2015.  Under World Health Day 2014's theme "Small bite, big threat" with its goal of better protection against vector-borne diseases, he describes the case for community action against dengue in his home state of Andras Pradesh. He can be contacted directly by email: aravindbm@gmail.com

Dengue is the fastest growing vector-borne disease (VBD) worldwide, and Andhra Pradesh (a Southern Indian state) is no exception. Here, the cases of dengue reported have been steadily rising from 313 in 2008 to 2299 in 2012. The issue of missed cases due to the partial reporting of dengue positive cases by private hospitals and clinics, which are the most commonly used heathcare facilities in our state, make us sceptical of the true burden of this potentially deadly disease. Having a tropical climate, with increasing urbanization, mostly unplanned, and not much “people participation” in health issues increases our cause for concern.1

Mosquitoes are the most common insects today that city dwellers encounter and one species, Aedes aegypti,  are the vector for dengue, transmitting the disease to people via their bite: they are day-biting and breed in clean water collected inside and around houses, especially in urban areas.2 As dengue does not have vaccine or cure, the emphasis is on prevention. The World Health Organization is using this year's World Health Day to build awareness about VBDs and reinforce the need for community empowerment in terms of protecting against these small creatures which are a huge threat to the health of the entire community.3 Andhra Pradesh’s state health machinery is using this opportunity to reach out & empower different stakeholders with effective communication and information.

Awareness of people regarding dengue

When there is no biological vaccine for a disease, knowledge of how this disease spreads and how to prevent this becomes very important. It may then be apt to say that health education leading to healthy behaviours acts as a social vaccine.

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Climate change – will it affect spread of vector borne diseases?

Climate change is going to mean mosquito-borne diseases
spread north out of the tropics right? That seems to be the story the news media are giving us. But it is really the case? Do we really need to start thinking about buying bednets to protect against mozzy bites?




Aedes mosquito(CDC)As editor of Global Health database I was invited to the ISNTD Bites
seminar in London, at the Natural History Museum where the issue was hotly debated. The session on climate change and disease vectors showed that
while biology of disease vectors like mosquitoes and sandflies is affected by temperature there are several other
factors that influence spread of disease vectors and the diseases they carry that may mean they don’t spread in the way straight climate maps predict.
Among these are land use, urbanisation and global trade. In fact, the
entomologists at the seminar were arguing that climate change issues are
distracting researchers from looking more into factors that are having drastic effects on the spread of disease vectors
and disease right now.

 

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