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COVID-19 ‘Contained’, but Why Is Dengue Fever Wreaking Havoc in Uttar Pradesh?

Doctors absent, community centres shut, private clinics full – dengue cases point to UP's falling health system.

Updated

Video Producer: Mayank Chawla
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

Recently, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that his government was successful in 'containing the spread of coronavirus' and is prepared for a possible third wave. Then why are dengue and viral fever cases wreaking havoc in the 'COVID-prepared' state? Why is the state's healthcare system in shambles?

In UP's Agra, Firozabad, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Mathura, Meerut, Baghpat, and Kanpur, fever and dengue cases are still on the rise. Children are the worst-affected. In the last one month, more than 200 lives have been lost.

Photos and viral videos of parents desperately running around with their children in their arms, trying to find a hospital bed, of fathers pleading the authorities, of mothers falling at the feet of doctors, to save their loved ones, paint a grim picture of healthcare in UP.

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Claims vs Reality on Ground

When the second wave of COVID-19 was at its peak, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had released a Rural Health Statistics Report 2019-20, which stated that there is a 76.1 percent shortage of specialist doctors in the community health centres (CHCs) across the country. Rajasthan (419) and Uttar Pradesh (402) topped this list.

UP is also ahead in shortage of surgeons, obstetricians, and gynaecologists. There are 2,171 sanctioned posts of specialist doctor in CHCs of UP. But, only 816 posts are filled and 1,355 are still lying vacant. This means that more than half of the specialist doctors in the CHCs, considered the backbone of the health system of the village, are yet to join.

According to the report, there are 3,578 sanctioned posts in primary health centres (PHCs) in rural UP, of which 819 are still vacant. Obviously, the pressure is now building up on the hospitals in the cities and the healthcare system is collapsing, in the face of dengue outbreak.

If the state of UP is fully prepared to handle a possible third wave of COVID-19, then the fact that dengue cases are overwhelming the system begs the question: Janab Aise Kaise?

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