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With monsoon approaching,Kerala steps up disease surveillance

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Press Trust of India  |  Thiruvananthapuram 

With the South-West

monsoon expected to hit Kerala coast by June first week, the states public health machinery has been put in top gear to cope up with the seasonal incidence of communicable diseases, without slackening the COVID-19 containment efforts.

Apart from equipping the network of hospitals under the Department of Health and Family Welfare down to the primary health centre level, public contact and disease surveillance programmes have also been stepped up to meet the situation, officials said.

Parts of Kerala have been receiving heavy rains since the beginning of this month and the fever cases has so far touched 41,639, with one death.

There has been 140 confirmed dengue cases and one suspected death,52 leptospirosiscases and 12Hepatitis A cases, according to the Health department figures.

The fever cases from various districts on Wednesday alone touched 2,634 while 12 dengue and 7 suspected lepto cases were also reported.

The thrust of the campaign is to make people aware of their critical role in reducing the burden of seasonal communicable diseases through personal and community level activities such as mosquito control, personal hygiene, environmental sanitation and safe drinking water.

These will help check spread of disease-causing viruses, health officials said.

The ongoing programmes such as Arogya Jagratha, the grassroots-level health awareness project carried out with the support of local self government institutions, have been stepped up, Additional Director of the Directorate of Health Services Dr V Meenakshy said.

"Enlisting the participation of people is a key component of communicable disease control efforts. This is especially important in the prevailing context, she said.

Apart from the motivational efforts, steps are also being taken to ensure that the government hospitals across the state are well-equipped to meet the emerging situation by ensuring that they have sufficient human resources, funds and stock of medicines and equipment, she added.

Lending a helping hand to the health workers, already fanned out around the state following the COVID-19 outbreak, workers of the Arogya Sena, a voluntary movement, have joined the home visits, without compromising social distancing norms, to tell people of the need to keep their homes and surroundings clean.

Disease prevention activities are an important component of any robust public healthcare system. Kerala has always given due emphasis to these activities, which have assumed added significance in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr Amar Fettle, state Nodal Officer for the disease, which has affected 666 people as of Wednesday.

The measures aim at educating the people about what they could do to fend off spread of viral infections like dengue and H1N1, which have a history of recurrence in the state during the rainy season, he pointed out.

In the present context, it is possible that many will get confused and become panicky when they develop symptoms of any type of fever. It would be difficult to make out one from the other. The way out is to seek medical aid without waiting, Dr Fettle said.

Observing that infections like dengue were caused by mosquitoes, he said the thrust of fighting it was eradication of the insects at ground zero, which can be achieved through community involvement.

People must keep their surroundings clean and dry, individually and collectively, so that the immediate environs will not become the breeding ground for mosquitoes, he said.

For the prevention of leptospirosis, a commonly reported ailment caused by bacteria during the monsoon and known as rat fever, it was important to keep the home and the neighbourhood free of litters, especially food morsels, which attract rodents.

The Health Department and special missions under it such as Aardram, working to make health services people-friendly, have stepped up their ongoing programmes in this direction.

Labourers who work in the fields and other areas are more vulnerable to leptospirosis, which is mostly spread through the urine of rodents, officials said.

The number of such jobs is set to increase with the employment guarantee schemes getting a boost in the COVID-19 relief packages, targeting the less privileged sections.

Water and food borne diseases like acute diarrheal diseases and viral Hepatitis are also common during the monsoon period.

Special attention will be given to personal hygiene and food safety. Drinking boiled water itself helps in preventing water borne diseases, they said.

Consuming only fresh home cooked food taking care of personal and kitchen hygiene are among the best ways to prevent food borne diseases.

Social media platforms have also been leveraged in a big way to mount educative and instructive efforts, which have gained considerable traction.

Kerala has registered24 new COVID cases on Wednesday, taking the total infection tally to 666 with 161 active cases.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 20 2020. 20:22 IST
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