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INDIA Mumbai health report: Cholera, malaria on the rise

Reveals cases of diseases such as cholera and malaria have shot up in four years

By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent
July 25, 2012

Mumbai: A report on the state of health in Mumbai has raised several red flags and reveals that the incidence of diseases like malaria, diarrhoea, dengue, cholera, TB and more such serious sicknesses have shot up in the last four years.

In the past four years, from 2008-09 to 2011-12, malaria went up from 23,317 to 39,828 cases, diarrhoea from 81,321 to 99,839, dengue from 682 to 1,879 and cholera from 96 to 178. These cases have been reported from civic-run and government-run hospitals and the numbers could be much higher since 75 per cent of people in Mumbai use private health care facilities. The estimated occurrence of diseases like malaria has been pegged at nearly 400,000 cases, diabetes 275,000 and TB 63,000 in 2011-12.

Praja foundation, an NGO involved with civic governance, released its white paper on Tuesday and said its report is based on a survey conducted among over 15,000 households in Mumbai’s 227 wards or municipal divisions. It also procured data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) through the Right to Information Act.

In a systemic study of municipal health services of all the civic wards revealed some startling facts, says Nitai Mehta, Founder Trustee of Praja Foundation. The survey revealed that more than 30 percent of households spend 11 percent or more of their annual on hospitals and medical costs. What has also come to light is that almost 80 per cent of the city’s residents did not have a medical insurance.

The report notes that while the BMC needs to be commended in curtailing the growth rate of certain diseases, it clearly is not enough. Identification of health targets is one of the more visible strategies to direct the activities of the health sector. Mehta points out that though Mumbai has the greatest allocation of funds and resources for its health agenda, the government is focusing more on tertiary and not on primary healthcare.

According to the NGO, concerns raised by it ought to galavanise the citizenry as well as elected representatives to take up cudgels on behalf of their constituencies to force the administration to solve the problems. “In India, we need a road map to ‘better health for all’ that can be used by states, communities, professional organizations and all sectors,” says Mehta. An up-to-date health information system is the need of the hour to improve public health “and no part of the country is better poised to build a more health information system than Mumbai,” he adds.

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