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Dengue and Chikungunya had the country in its grip this year, but it was Polio that brought international attention to India for failure to control the spread of the virus.
The outbreaks saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervening and directing Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss to take urgent steps and to form future strategies to stop the spread of the diseases.
The first time Prime Minister intervened on a health issue was when UN Secretary General Kofi Anan wrote to him, expressing concern on the outbreak of Polio in the country, and the second time, it was on Dengue when he reviewed the situation and instructed the Health Ministry to transform its disease surveillence programme into an early warning system on epidemics.
Singh, whose two grandsons and one son-in-law were rushed to AIIMS after they were found to be suffering from suspected Dengue, asked the Ministry to issue regular health alerts and health bulletins to create public awareness so as to enable preemptive action being taken both at the community and household levels.
He also said the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) should be made accountable for any failure in prediction of outbreaks. On the Polio front, the Ministry intensified its campaigns in the country, including launching an additional round of polio immunisation programme in the 15 affected states on Novemeber 12, after reports that during earlier rounds, especially towards the end of 2005 and in early 2006, seven to 15 per cent of children were missed out.
Malaria killed 819 people in the country till November 17, while 444 died due to JE as of October this year. Kalaazar (black fever) killed 187 people till September this year. A total of 1650 people died due to mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue, in the country this year as compared to 2959 in the previous year, a PTI report said here quoting official sources. The number of mosquito-borne deaths have gone down in 2006 because of a three-pronged strategy initiated under the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme.