Is the lack of entomologists an answer to the growing number of malaria and dengue cases?
According to papers, India has less than one entomologist sanctioned per state, but in reality, almost 65% of the sanctioned strength has been lying vacant. Some states and UTs, such as Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh and Puducherry do not have even a single sanctioned post. At a meeting of all the health secretaries of the country held on Wednesday to review the National Rural Health Mission, The Union Health Ministry revealed that 25 of 30 states did not have a state entomologist; these states included some of the worst affected victims of vector-borne diseases, such as Karnataka, Maharastra, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Uttaranchal, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Uttaranchal, etc. The Ministry has now ordered the states to fill up the posts of entomologists immediately. Furthermore, the Centre offered to pay for the appointments of the entomologists. [Read: Treatment for Malaria]
Apart from the state sanction of practitioners, even the zonal appointments have been neglected greatly. Of 79 positions sanctioned, 38 are still lying vacant. No entomologist has been in place in over 23 states. Having already recorded 1.4 lakh malaria cases, 679 Japanese encephalitis, 6245 kalazar cases and 1638 Chikungunya cases till March 2012, India needs to get its entomologists to work towards fighting the problem.
According to Dr A C Dhariwal, director of National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme, what entomologists do is important because they are who conduct the vector surveillance. Diseases, such as dengue and malaria manifest in vectors first and therefore, identifying the vectors can signal the programme of possible outbreaks, thereby helping them control its spread among human beings. [Read: How to Prevent Malaria]
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