Is West Bengal govt trying to suppress information regarding dengue deaths?
The dengue deaths in West Bengal have now become the latest issue of confrontation between the Centre and the state government.
After Union Health Minister JP Nadda instructed the health secretary to inquire into the dengue deaths in West Bengal on Friday , the All India Trinamool Congress has accused the Centre of trying to create an unnecessary controversy.
Partha Chatterjee, state parliamentary affairs minister said, “Centre is playing politics over dengue deaths in the state. What they are doing is against the spirit of federalism”.
“If they want information, all they have to do is ask the state government and we will provide them all the data regarding dengue deaths. Instead they have decided to carry out their own enquiry,” he added.
On Monday, West Bengal chief secretary Malay De convened a press conference on the deaths due to dengue.
De said that since January this year, 18,238 cases of dengue have been reported from different parts of West Bengal, while 35 people have died due to the vector-borne disease till Monday. According to the state government figures, presently around 39 deaths have occurred due to dengue in the state. De also mentioned that last year around 20,140 cases of dengue were reported and the number of deaths stood at 40.
The state government has gone a step further as it has apparently told officials not to give any information regarding dengue deaths to the Centre without informing the chief minister’s office.
On October 12, chief minister Mamata Banerjee convened a press conference to update the public about the dengue deaths in the state and blamed pathological laboratories for tampering test results.
Banerjee mentioned the names of some of the private laboratories, which were carrying out tests despite not being adequately equipped. She said that most of the pathological laboratories in the state do not carry out the tests as per the guidelines of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program (NVBDCP).
This has prompted the state government to issue a notification asking all health clinics under municipalities and civic bodies not to disclose the results of the tests, without sending the report to the state health department. She said that the state health department is the final authority on whether a person has died due to dengue or not.
Sources in the state health department said that in the first week of October, the number of dengue affected persons in North 24 Parganas was 18,255, but within a week chief minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that the dengue was under control.
On Friday a 23-year-old women died of dengue at Beleghata ID Hospital. The patient’s relatives claimed that the woman was suffering from dengue for a week and was admitted to the hospital few days back after her condition deteriorated. But the hospital authorities claimed that the women died of multi –organ failure.
A senior general physician of SSKM Hospital said “We are being warned not to write the exact cause of death without asking the state health department. A few days back, a patient’s relatives urged me to write the truth in the report but I said that I need to speak with the concerned health authorities before writing the exact cause of death ”.
All the Opposition parties have been targeting the AITC government on the dengue deaths issue. While BJP cadres burnt effigies of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and called her “Dengueshree”, the Congress organised protests against the alleged suppression of information regarding dengue deaths.
West Bengal’s Minister of State for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya rubbished the Opposition’s allegations and said "We are not at all suppressing the figures of dengue deaths. We are monitoring the situation and taking appropriate preventive action in every municipality in the state".