As part of the Kerala government's efforts to strengthen preventive measures against diseases in the aftermath of the unprecedented floods, the Ernakulam district health department has introduced a special programme -- SRADDA (Surveillance and Rapid Action against Diseases in Disaster Aftermath). Under the scheme, health workers visit the flood-hit areas and households, in order to accelerate the measures preventing the spread of epidemics.
Introduced on August 30, almost all the houses in the affected areas have been visited by the health workers under the scheme. SRADDA is aimed at coordinating various efforts to prevent and control post-flood diseases across the district, identifying epidemics at the primary stage and controlling their spread, disinfecting all the water bodies and creating awareness among the public.
The team of SRADDA consists of 280 junior health inspectors from various institutions, 426 junior public health nurses and 1,995 ASHA workers. Apart from this, 85 junior inspectors from the health ministry also play a key role in the scheme.
On August 30, on the day of its founding, 831 teams were involved in the SRADDA programme. While on August 31, 923 teams were there on the ground. So far, 1,62,546 houses have been covered under the programme and through this visit, the team members have identified 3,915 cases of fever and 566 cases of diarrhea.The immediate intervention of health workers has also resulted in the early diagnosis of the diseases.
As there was an influx in the number of water-borne diseases including leptospirosis, diarrhoea, dengue, health workers are very keen on disinfecting the water bodies. The SRADDA teams that are on the field, so far, have distributed 1,09,727 chlorine tabs. All the water-borne diseases which have claimed lives of a few dozen people are now under control, according to the state health officials.
State Health Minister K. K. Shailaja, on September 5, said, “Since the floods in August, there were 45 suspected cases of leptospirosis and 13 confirmed deaths.” The state government, earlier, had issued a high alert in all the districts to take measures preventing the spread of the water-borne diseases during the initial days that had seen a number of cases of leptospirosis.
Meanwhile, Union Minister for Health J.P. Nadda, who was in Kerala on Friday to review the relief works, has praised the state’s rehabilitation efforts focusing on disease control. He has said that probably the world’s most large-scale preventive measures against disease breakout in the wake of floods was being successfully carried out in the state.
Though a part of public health centres- nearly 481 Primary Health Centres and 37 Community Health Centres- were damaged during the floods, all the necessary measures have been taken and medicines have been stocked in the health centers. Till Friday, more than 75 lakh doxycycline tablets- the drug used for the treatment of leptospirosis- were distributed in the state. But, only 18 lakh capsules were provided by the Centre. However, in Ernakulam district itself, over 18 lakh doxycycline tablets were distributed.
Meanwhile, the health minister who frequently warns about the unscientific methods of prevention of diseases had lodged a complaint against naturopathy practitioner Jacob Vadakkencherry who has been spreading false and misleading information about the preventive measures to stop the spread of leptospirosis. Following this, the police on Saturday arrested Jacob.
It is a fact that the majority of the people who have died of leptospirosis had not taken the doxycycline as directed by the health officials. Earlier, the health department had urged all those who had come in contact with flood waters, which is nearly two million people, to take preventive actions for leptospirosis.