Mobilising resources to stay prepared for prevention and to push for early diagnosis of Dengue

Dengue is a viral disease with a significant health burden. It is transmitted by the Aedes aegepti mosquitoes causing a spectrum of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. India observes National Dengue Day on May 16th which reflects the enormity of the impact this infection has on our population. There are national agencies under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI working every year to spread information, remove the breeding grounds for larvae, prevent the spread of infection and look after the measures for treating patients. Yet, every monsoon season brings with it a monumentous task of preventing Dengue from unleashing havoc on a large scale.

The Akhil Bharatiya Adarsh Chaurasia Mahasabha is an organisation that works on various social and health issues affecting the Chaurasia community. Their teams also participate in spreading information about various social problems and diseases. Mr. Ramesh Lakhulal Chaurasia, the president of this organisation, played a pivotal role along with his team in providing help to his community members and to many others during the COVID period. He and his organisation are looking to use their lessons from that initiative forward and are ready to apply them in preventing Dengue spread amongst vulnerable sections especially from the Chaurasia community.

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Mr. Ramesh Chaurasia talked to us about some of the aspects of this problem and the measures needed. He said, “Mass media, in today’s time even social media, and word of mouth are considered by many to be the primary sources of dispensing information related to diseases like malaria, dengue, as well as for communicable diseases. A study conducted in Delhi slums showed that many families with Dengue patients too quoted these sources rather than health care to be their main sources of information. It would be intelligent to use the above-mentioned sources and door to door information methods with the help of health care workers and municipality workers. Community leaders can also show proactive participation. Organisations like the Akhil Bharatiya Adarsh Chaurasia Mahasabha can also form teams to disperse information and also help people remove breeding sources of Aedes aegepti larvae. We found great success with teams working this way and by also forming self help groups during COVID in both rural areas, small towns, and in highly populated urban areas.”

He added, “We will use the same effective and targeted strategies for this season when Dengue spreads. We also use our community gatherings for informing community members on various social, health, economical, and other areas. There is still a lot of misinformation as well as lack of information regarding this infection. This has to be tackled along with preventing spread of the infection while also being prepared to help people recieve medical aid. With COVID haven’t disappeared completely, other seasonal infections, and a high load of lifestyle diseases on our medical system, it would be catastrophic if dengue infection spreads like it has many a times.”

Educational programs need to be increased to bring awareness about Dengue. Despite so many measures, people still have many misconceptions about how this infection spreads. Despite the fear, there is a lack of notable actions from the people to protect themselves. Cleaning water storage tanks regularly, using specific larvicides, covering water storage containers, using repellents, etc, are highly effective.

One of the most effective preventive measures is wearing long sleeves and pants which is one of the most overlooked measures. Unlike popular perception, this mosquito bites in the day time. Infected dengue patients are a potential source of infection for others if they are bitten by Aedes mosquito. These patients should use bednets. While most cases are mild, few can develop severe and even life-threatening disease. The simplest way is prevention. So, this is the aspect to be given the most attention. The government has provided detailed information on and has also dedicated a helpline number for this- 1800-180-1104. There is a mobile app called “India fights Dengue” as well. The WHO and other agencies too have detailed information which people can refer to when they need information. Mr. Ramesh Chaurasia added, “We plan to engage teams to arrange fumigation, look after avoiding waste disposal around dwellings as these are fertile breeding grounds, and to prevent collection of fresh water. Self help groups and our teams will disperse information as well. We request everyone with signs and symptoms resembling Dengue fever to see a doctor without delay.”