‘Dengue, Chikungunya rampant in India, need attention’, says eminent scientist


Dengue and Chikungunya are widespread diseases that require close attention in India, eminent scientist and an international expert on Ebola, Peter Piot has said.

Though India was not at risk of an Ebola outbreak, there have been many such outbreaks in the past, including bird flu and swine flu, Piot, co-discoverer of the Ebola virus and Director, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said during his lecture at the Indian Institute of Public Health-Hyderabad (IIPH-H) here last night.

“There is a need for countries to build better and more responsive health systems and services. This calls for synergies among NGOs, communities, inter-governmental coalitions for a more systematic approach. Overall, if we focus more on preparedness and human rights, we will accomplish more,” a release from IIPH quoted Piot as saying.

The lecture highlighted the threat of viruses may be “exacerbated” by the current context of ecological change, climate change, global mobility, international travel and trade, human demographics and behaviour, agricultural and environmental pollution, it said.

While the mode of transmission varies from one virus to another, stigma and misinformation are common threads that determine how swiftly the epidemic is controlled, Piot said.

“He also shared that media attention has the power to make a significant difference in perceptions. In 1976, when the first Ebola outbreak took place, only a few short articles made it to international news, whereas in the age of 24 hour news channels and social media, connectivity should quicken the pace of reaching out to the public with “risk communication messages”, he said.

Noting that technology to tackle these emerging threats may be more advanced, he said the socially explosive situation that accompanies viruses needs to be tackled in equal measure.

President of Public Health Foundation of India K Srinath Reddy also spoke on the spread of infections and other issues.

(With PTI inputs)