Simple preventive steps can control vector-borne diseases

Simple preventive measures like improving access to safe drinking water, proper sanitation facilities and checking growth of pathogens like mosquitoes and sand flies can control vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria, experts said Monday.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vector-borne diseases account for 17 percent of the estimated global burden of all infectious diseases.

Every year, more than one billion people are infected and over one million die from vector-borne diseases worldwide.

It is estimated that almost 70 percent of such diseases are reported from the low and middle income countries.

“The world’s fastest growing vector-borne disease is dengue, with a 30-fold increase of its occurrence over the last 50 years,” said S. Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine, Apollo hospitals.

“Preventive measures such as improving access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities can go a long way in controlling and evading these diseases,” he said.

“Simple prevention of mosquitoes, sand flies and other vectors can help control vector-borne diseases which are rising in India and worldwide, as 55 countries are affected by them. Around 15 million people are hit with such diseases every year,” said Satish Koul, physician, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon.

“Dengue claims several lives every year in India and is the number one vector-borne disease worldwide,” he said.

“The diseases are preventable and require awareness about ways to prevent them,” said Gaurav Thukral, head medical services of HealthCare at Home, an organization providing services to patients at home.

“We are providing counselling to people. We are educating them about the root cause of such diseases and how they are transmitted,” Thukral said.

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The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also sought elimination of mosquitoes and creating awareness about such diseases.

Schools, colleges and health departments should work together to ensure this, IMA secretary general Narendra Saini said.

The government and the WHO recently conducted a joint monitoring mission on vector-borne diseases to review progress, identify challenges and provide advice on strategic issues, including how to improve the integration of such diseases with the general healthcare system in the country.

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