The World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office for India has joined hands with the Health Department of Maharashtra and the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust for the prevention and control of vector borne diseases like dengue, malaria, chikungunya, lymphatic filariasis, kala-azar and Japanese encephalitis in India.
The collaboration is a part of World Health Day campaign – small bite: big threat aimed at raising awareness about the threats posed by insect vectors and the bacteria, viruses, and parasites they carry, collectively known as vector-borne diseases (VBDs). As a part of the campaign, the Mumbai dabbawalas will sensitise Mumbaikars by delivering along with lunch boxes, a specially created tag with key messages about preventing and controlling vector-borne diseases, especially malaria and dengue on April 7, 2014 celebrated globally as World Health Day.
Speaking on the occasion Dr Nata Menabde, WHO representative to India said, “In India, the burden of VBDs is concentrated in the remote areas of the country with the poorest health systems where the population is most exposed. Weak collaboration across agencies, sectors, and levels of government, including the regulatory mechanisms are some of the key challenges. There is a need for robust collaboration and action across all sectors and for targeted community level sensitization.”
“The recently conducted Joint Monitoring Mission on VBDs in India is a step towards reviewing disease control efforts through the health systems lens to identify and address critical gaps,” she added.
Echoing similar views, Sujata Saunik, secretary, Public Health, Government of Maharashtra said that the collaboration is a timely initiative as Maharashtra has shown significant improvement in health indicators like Maternal Mortality Rate, Infant Mortality Rate and Infertility as compared nationally.
Acknowledging the importance of spreading messages on controlling VBDs, Raghunath Medge, president, Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust said, “Reaching out to a large number of Mumbaikars will certainly have a multiplier effect because there is a need for communities at large need to be sensitized and informed about basic preventive tips. We are happy to be associated with WHO for this cause and will do our bit in making the citizens of Mumbai more informed on how to protect themselves and their families.”
Vector-borne diseases account for 17 per cent of the estimated global burden of all infectious diseases. The world’s fastest growing vector-borne disease is dengue, with a 30 fold increase in disease incidence over the last 50 years. “Around 70 per cent of countries and territories affected by VBDs are low income and lower middle income countries. Vector borne diseases have intensified their severity due to climate, environmental change and globalization,” said Dr Asheena Khalakdina, team leader, communicable diseases, WHO.