Dengue outbreak: Meet Dr. Madap Karuna who is fighting a lone battle against deadly infection

Dr. Madap Karuna is urging the government to take stringent measures regarding the Dengue issue

By Anoushka Caroline Williams  Published on  24 April 2023 4:30 AM GMT
Dr. Madap Karuna

Hyderabad: Covid-19 and dengue have dealt a twin blow to people in Hyderabad. Unconfirmed sources said dengue cases are far greater than the seven instances documented daily.

According to the National Centre for Vector Borne Diseases Control, Telangana had the greatest number of dengue cases last year, with 13,091 cases reported until October 31, more than four times the national average of 3,068 cases.

“It does not look any more promising this year either. For change to show, change needs to be made. Even after such a big scare last year, the government has done nothing to implement awareness or change. May is the month breeding of Dengue Mosquitos begins. Seeing the kind of rains Hyderabad has been having, the government should have already started cleaning out water loggings and sending out Dengue advisories” said Dr. Madap Karuna.

Dr. Madap Karuna is one such doctor who has put up a constant fight against dengue. He is urging the government to take stringent measures regarding the issue.

In conversation with NewsMeter, she discussed affordable healthcare and the means to fight the disease.

What do you mean when you say that healthcare is directly proportional to affordability?

A farmer had severe Covid and. he was given ECMO treatment which saved his life. It cost him Rs two lakh daily. How many people can afford to give themselves such a treatment? How much money would the farmer have spent just to get better? How affordable is it? This is still a very extreme situation. Even something small like an injury, or a slightly complicated illness, people are scared to get treated at government hospitals. Is it right that people sell their assets and whatever they own just to live a healthy life? Now dengue season is at its peak. Government hospitals are overloaded. Where will people go? They can't help but end up at private hospitals and end up spending a lot or all of their savings just to get better.

You are very vocal about your fight with dengue. Tell us more about it.

With the onset of Covid, the government was very proactive in setting rules and making sure they are being followed. Dengue has become a yearly feature. Many people suffer and die. This has been a disease that has left families penniless because of the treatment cost. We don't find any awareness about this issue. We still do not see the government making a conscious effort in trying to eradicate dengue. I have even filed a petition in the High Court against Dengue Fever. The government refuses to accept a case of dengue unless ELISA tests are done. However, the ELISA test is expensive, and lower-middle-class patients are unable to afford it.

I have been requesting the government to start a prevention and awareness campaign for the past six years. I have also requested the government to accept the results of the rapid diagnostic test NS1 and the diagnosis by the doctor-in-charge, to immediately start treatment for dengue patients, as the first five days of the incubation period are of utmost importance.

Apart from this, we need to provide psychological counseling to dengue patients and their families as multiple types of research revealed that a dengue epidemic causes PTSD in patients.

How can this issue be taken care of?

The government needs to take dengue awareness seriously. Singapore has framed rules. Under the rules, houses found having water logging will have to pay a hefty fine. Our government needs to teach people the dos and dont’s of dengue the same way they have done with Covid. It is an equally life-threatening disease and people should stop taking it so lightly. Apart from homes Schools and places of work should be checked for waterlogging. Most cases we see of dengue are from the same areas. The solution is right in front of us but no one wants to effectively work on it.

Doctor Karuna filed the PIL to request comments and records from the State Health and Family Welfare departments and government hospitals in the city in connection with providing adequate medical facilities in government hospitals, which are not properly equipped to treat diseases like swine flu, malaria, and dengue, especially in the twin cities, forcing the majority of patients affected to be admitted in private hospitals.

"I have seen scores of people, both adults and children, being affected by dengue and the dreadful suffering that comes with it, I've been teaching people about the need of preventing dengue mosquito reproduction and have made various recommendations to authorities. However, nothing has been done," said Dr. Karuna, who owns a clinic in Kompally.

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