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K’taka IAS Calls Onions, Jaggery Cure for Dengue, AYUSH Says ‘No’

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On Monday evening, the internet was graced by Karnataka Principal Secretary for Health and Family Welfare, Shalini Rajneesh’s take on the “cure for dengue”.

In a lengthy post on Facebook, Shalini Rajneesh shared a picture of onion and jaggery, and asked people to eat it if they were infected by dengue. She claimed it can cure them of the fever.

“Remedy for Dengue fever – Share to spread the awareness,” her post reads.

The rest of the post, which is written in Kannada states, “It is easy to use with no side effects and is available everywhere. There’s nothing to lose. Those who are affected by dengue, should consume jaggery along with raw shallots for cure. This medicine helps increase platelet count in dengue patients. It is truly an effective medicine.”

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Angered by the Principal Secretary’s post, President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Narendra Nayak, slammed her “remedy” and said that Rajneesh’s status was a “danger to citizens of India”.

Look at the post, there are over 7,000 shares. She is buying into quackery and spreading false information. Her position as the Principal Secretary of the Health Department will make people believe the nonsense she is spreading. It can be dangerous for people to not obtain treatment for dengue. This message may lead people to believe that they don’t need to consult a doctor.

“Is this cure endorsed by the health department and administered as treatment in government hospitals? If this really works and there is evidence for the same, then it should be used as the standard protocol for all dengue patients. If it is not so, then she should retract and give a statement to that effect,” Nayak said, in an email to journalists.

IAS Officer Shalini’s post has not only angered rationalists but also a few doctors in the state.

Dr Srinivas Kakkilaya, a consulting Physician, said that Shalini Rajneesh “is totally confused and creating problems for those who may be infected by dengue”.

There is a programme called the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, which takes care of vector-borne diseases in India. The NVBDCP manual states that Aedes mosquito, which is responsible for infecting humans with dengue, breeds in clean water collection in both urban and rural areas. However, in South Karnataka, it also breeds in the rubber plantation.

Stating that Ayurveda “does not have the word virus or vector-borne disease in its books and has no treatment for any viral infection”, Dr Kakkilaya questioned Ayush’s prescription for dengue treatment.

“If you look at IAS officer Shalini Rajneesh’s Facebook page, above the ridiculous post about onions and jaggery curing dengue, there is another post in which she is promoting Ayush, the Karnataka government’s agency which promotes Ayurveda,” he said.

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The concept of infectious diseases does not exist in Ayurvada, and even now, Charaka’s teachings are what is taught to Ayurvedic students. How can Ayush prescribe treatment for a viral infection? Why is Shalini Rrajneesh promoting Ayush and the quacks? She is now allowing them to prescribe drugs during emergencies, and she wants to train them as well. Now she is promoting Ayush for dengue. It just does not make any sense to me.

According to Dr Kakkilaya, the government of Karnataka has to take measures to prevent mosquito breeding to tackle dengue.

“In urban areas, the Aedes mosquito breeds in construction sites and pools of water formed from domestic waste and water thrown out. However, in rural areas, it breeds in areas where water logging happens in agricultural fields and rubber plantations. The government must identify such spots and prevent their breeding,” he said.

Secondly, instead of giving into quackery, the government must urge people to use mosquito repellents. The government must create awareness about it, most importantly in rural areas.
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Dr Kakkilaya said that if persons are experiencing high fever, rashes on the fore arms or legs, dizziness and bleeding in the gums, they must approach the nearest hospital as they are symptoms of dengue.

“People must visit the nearest PHC and get tested. If it is a positive case, then they must approach a consulting physician and get admitted in the hospital immediately. The onions and jaggery won’t work,” Dr Kakkilaya added.

(This was first published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)

AYUSH Ministry Responds

After TNM published the story, the Ayush ministry on Tuesday issued a statement saying that the home remedies are not to be used, as The New Indian Express reported.

It is not intended to suggest that these remedies should be used instead of conventional treatment.

The statement further reads, “In an attempt to spread information about the utility of simple add-on therapies like decoction of amruta balli, papaya leaves and onion, material pertaining to prevention and adjuvant therapy is being circulated. The ingredients are commonly available, cost effective and generally, would not cause an untoward reaction in the body.”

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