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Dodging dengue in its Backyard, Uttar Pradesh’s Bansa Manages Waste Through Action, Education

While the entire state was on alert in September last year due to an upsurge in dengue, ASHA workers recorded no such cases in Bansa, thanks to the panchayat's concerted efforts to manage solid and liquid waste efficiently

Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh: “I would want my village to have a hospital,” Shubha Devi was quick to respond when asked about the changes she hoped to see in Bansa. Devi’s demand seemed reasonable considering that the nearest Community Health Centre (CHC) is 15 km away at block headquarters Mallawan.

One has to change three rickshaws to reach there, but service is almost unavailable after evening. It becomes even more crucial in times like last September, when Uttar Pradesh was put on alert mode due to an upsurge in dengue cases.

While the caseload in the state went over 13,000 in mid-October, Bansa in Hardoi district with 950 families and 5,062 inhabitants had no dengue patients, as recorded by government healthcare staff in the block.

“While our normal outpatient footfall in a day is 200 to 250, it went up to 500 in October with 90% cases related to fever. These were tested for dengue using rapid test kits and the blood samples from positive ones were sent for the confirmation test to Hardoi District Hospital,” said Dr Sanjay Singh, Superintendent, Mallawan CHC.

The CHC recorded 14 confirmed dengue cases, none from Bansa. All the six Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in the village panchayat conducted door-to-door monitoring. “We visited every home under our chetra [area] educating people about the precautionary measures. We enquired if anyone had fever. Thankfully, no dengue cases were found,” Vijaylaxmi (35), an ASHA since 2012, told 101Reporters. She has 950 people from 250 houses of Bansa under her careful watch.  

However, there were people like Mukesh Kumar (40), who consulted a jholachhap (quack) and visited a private lab in Mallawan to get his Complete Blood Count (CBC) checked when he fell ill with fever and body ache. While showing his CBC report, he pointed at the 1.1 lakh platelet count highlighted in bold, signalling a low count.  

Furthermore, at present only one collection e-vehicle is present. “We are trying to make available another collection vehicle to improve efficiency,” Vivek said.

Despite 77.7% of the state's population being rural as per the 2011 Census, the annual report by the Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi, has no substantial data regarding the state’s rural waste management. In the report, Uttar Pradesh ranked 26th among all states and union territories in terms of its environmental performance pertaining to solid waste management.

“Mallawan block has 54 village panchayats and while holding meetings with gram pradhans, we often showcase Bansa as an example to solve the waste crisis in villages,” Awdhesh Kumar, Assistant Development Officer, Mallawan block, told 101Reporters.

Bansa is amongst the three shortlisted village panchayats from Uttar Pradesh for the national level Swachhta Puruskar. The results are awaited.  

(Aishwarya Tripathi  is an Uttar Pradesh-based freelance journalist and a member of 101Reporters, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)

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