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Dengue outbreak triggers blame-game in West Bengal


CS BHATTACHARJEE | Kolkata, September 9, 2012 22:56
Tags : dengue in west bengal | mamata banerjee | mamata didi mbbs |


Dengue outbreak in Kolkata and its suburbs has created a never seen situation in the state with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee taking on the doctor’s role, instructing which medicine to be taken and what to avoid in case blood tests are ‘Positive’. 

She has even advised people to ignore ‘Positive’ reports of SN-1 test and not to take medicines but drink oral solution and wait for 5 more days to go for Mac Elisa test. She also slammed physicians, hospitals and media for ‘panic’ created over dengue outbreak. 

Meanwhile, Government’s role on dengue has come under the scanner of Calcutta High Court as the Court has admitted a PIL on dengue filed by one Basabi Roy Chowdhury. Admitting the PIL, the bench of Chief Justice J.N. Patel and Justice Jaymalya Bagchi directed the government to submit details of the steps it has initiated across the state since the outbreak. Raising questions about inadequate infrastructure in state-run hospitals, the petitioner asked the court for a proper policy, strict vigil by a panel including various government departments to contain the dengue outbreak.

Over 2000 people of the state’s 17 districts have been affected and more than 30 persons have died till Friday due to dengue. 

But unlike other occasions, this time Mamata has refrained from off-the-cuff remarks. However, she admitted serious lapses on the part of her party-run Kolkata Municipal Corporation in taking preventive measures in time. “There were lapses on Municipal Corporation’s part. I have ordered them to take preventive measures from February next year instead of April-May.” 

She said, “There is no medicine specifically for dengue. Take paracetamol, take saline drips or ORS. Take rest for at least five days.” She even adviced people not to visit private hospitals as they would bill the patients heavily. At the same time, she urged people not to trust SN-1 rapid tests and wait for 5 days to go for Mac Elisa test. “Positive in SN-1 rapid tests does not mean you are Dengue affected,” she said. 

Announcing ‘Aspirin’ is a banned drug, she asked police to stop sale of the medicine. She blamed doctors saying, “Doctors are mentioning Dengue as cause of death while patients have died of heart ailment.” 

Meanwhile, Mamata’s suggestions have attracted huge criticism from her critics and a section of doctors. Former Director of the School of Tropical Medicine Dr Amiya Kumar Hati said, “If a patient is positive in SN-1 antigen test, we have to treat him as a Dengue patient. In case of Dengue, Heamoglobin test and Platelet Count is important, rather than RBC count.” Regarding Mac Elisa test, Dr Hati said that this test would require if fever continues after 5 days, but treatment should start as soon as SN-1 Antigen shows positive. Admitting that there is dearth of proper medicine for Dengue, he said, “We do rely on medicines like Paracetamol.” But, the veteran doctor do not subscribe to ORS or saline drips and said, “Dengue patients require to drink excess water, but ORS and saline drips may affect patients of sugar and high pressure. We have to use that cautiously.”

Another eminent physician Dr Subir Dutta said, “Positive patients in SN-1 should be treated as Dengue patients according to medical science.” Opining same Dr Amitava Nandi said, if a SN-1 positive patient dies, according to medical science, we do have to write Dengue as cause of death”.
Criticising the Chief Minister, Leader of the opposition and former health minister Dr Surjya kanta Mishra said, “Despite being a qualified Physician, I never even once presented my own ideas. I relied on the protocol decided by the World Health Organisation and the Union Health ministry. It seems, she is trying to play the role of a doctor without possessing any such qualification,” Left Front chairman Biman Bose too criticised Chief Minister for assuming the role of a doctor as she is “giving instructions like a doctor. This is dangerous. She is not a qualified doctor. One should not play with the lives of people.”
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017