NOIDA: With dengue cases in Noida reportedly quadrupling this year as compared to previous years, health officials have blamed absence of district-level entomologists as the prime reason for the problem. An entomologist specializes in identification and control of vector-borne diseases. There is a single post, given out on a contractual basis, which has been lying empty for almost a year.
Moreover, there are two posts of entomologists at the state-level, both of which are lying vacant.
At a recent congregation of health secretaries of the country who had met the Union health minister to review the National Rural Health Mission, it was revealed that Uttar Pradesh, which is one of the worst affected state by vector-borne diseases, doesn't have a single state entomologist. Moreover, 65% of the posts for zonal entomologists, including the one for Noida, are also lying vacant.
This is in spite of clear recommendations given to the UP health department by the union health ministry to strengthen their infrastructure to deal with vector-borne diseases. The Union health ministry had listed 'filling up of vacant posts, regular monitoring supervision, programme implementation and improving surveillance' as one of the top three recommendations for the state.
Health officials explained that entomologists make up the first line of defence against dengue, malaria and other vector-borne diseases.
"A public entomologist's primary concern is to focus on the population biology of vector-borne infections. They seek to understand how pathogens perpetuate over time and devise methods for reducing the burden that they impose on human health," said Ashok Mishra, CMS, district hospital, Noida.
While the health department has confirmed only 18 cases of dengue in the district, suspected cases of dengue and malaria have touched 151 and 441, respectively. This clearly shows that the problem of vector-borne disease in the district is spiralling out of control.
"The contract given to an entomologist is for 11 months. However, once the previous contract expired, no one was hired by the state and the post is currently empty," said a senior health official.