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Epidemics have Kerala worried
George Iype in Kochi | June 24, 2003 12:53 IST
With the state in the grip of dengue, rat and viral fevers that have together claimed nearly 100 lives in the last three weeks, the Kerala government has turned to the Centre for help deal with the situation.
Chief Minister A K Antony set up a three-member crisis management team after reports of deaths due to dengue fever, rat fever (Weil's disease) and viral fever began pouring into state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
The ministerial panel headed by Rural Development Minister C F Thomas has roped in health exerts to study why Kerala, generally considered one of the best-managed states in terms of healthcare, is suddenly experiencing various epidemics.
Health experts pointed out that the changing climatic conditions could be one probable reason.
"This year, it was unusually hot in Kerala. Generally, rains hit the Kerala coast on June 1. But this year, the monsoon hit the state on June 15. Inbetween, extreme humidity and heat wave conditions prevailed in the state," epidemiologist Dr Mohan Kumar told rediff.com.
Dr Kumar pointed out that the unusual weather pattern had made 'many Keralites sick'.
"The epidemics also point to the complete lack of planning on the part of the state health department," he added.
Though health experts had warned more than one month back about people being affected by various types of fever, the health department reportedly ignored the warning.
Officials claim, as part of preventive measures, to have opened epidemic cells two months back in all district and medical college hospitals.
"It is for the first time in Kerala that so many people have died due to dengue and other kinds of viral fevers. We have taken urgent steps to check the problem," Kerala Health Minister P Sankaran told rediff.com.
Despite our efforts, Sankaran said, the epidemics had hit the state, which the minister pointed out 'is an unusual phenomenon'.
Sankaran said the government has already sanctioned Rs 2.20crore (Rs 22million) to local bodies to contain the situation besides pressing into service a number of 'fever clinics' across the state.
"But we need more funds and expertise to check these unusual epidemics. We have therefore requested Central aid," the minister disclosed.
On Monday, the Kerala government sought Rs 5crore (Rs 50million) from the Centre as urgent initial assistance.
More reports from Kerala