Opposition stages walkout in Kerala Assembly after permission denied to discuss rise in communicable diseases

VD Satheesan alleged that lack of coordination and poor pre-monsoon cleaning drives led to the current situation.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Jul 02, 2024 | 2:38 PM Updated Jul 02, 2024 | 2:38 PM

Kerala Assembly UDF protest

UDF-led Opposition in Kerala staged a walkout in the state Assembly on Tuesday, 2 July, after Speaker AN Shamseer denied permission for an adjournment motion to discuss the rise in communicable diseases in the state.

While Health Minister Veena George attributed outbreaks to the observation that Kerala is an epidemiologically vulnerable state and hence communicable diseases get reported, Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan alleged that lack of coordination and poor pre-monsoon cleaning drives led to the current situation.

It was TV Ibrahim MLA who presented the adjournment motion. According to him, the state is facing a situation where people have to fear not only the disease but a government that refuses to take any action to protect the lives of the citizens.

Also Read: Kerala government to implement special guidelines to combat deadly disease

Heath minister defends government

Responding to it, the health minister said that the health department and the state government had carried out meaningful interventions from the grassroots level.

“Considering factors like unpredictable rains, climate change, population density, and proximity of forests near human settlements, Kerala is considered an epidemiologically vulnerable state. Thus, the government had taken steps to address the challenges arising from this,” said George.

The minister also added that year-round activities were planned and it is being implemented with the help of the local bodies.

Responding to the dengue and leptospirosis outbreak, the minister said that the state witnessed dengue outbreaks in 2013 and 2017, and even though it was estimated that a spike might happen in 2023/2024, it didn’t happen due to the prevention activities.

She said the same was the case with leptospirosis cases.

The minister added the Hepatitis A outbreak is under control.

To join hands with ICMR

In the case of Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM), commonly known as brain-eating amoeba infection, the minister said that the state will join hands with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to study why it gets reported recurrently.

She added that sequencing will be carried out for that.

The minister also stated in the Assembly that the state would provide Miltefosine, a medication mainly used to treat leishmaniasis and free-living amoeba infections caused by Naegleria fowleri and Balamuthia mandrillaris to those undergoing treatment for PAM.

In 2024, Kerala reported five cases of PAM, of which, two succumbed to it.

Also Read: All about dengue: A guide to navigate through the viral disease

Opposition demands comprehensive study

However, Satheesan demanded that it is high time that the state conducted a comprehensive study on why it reports several epidemiological diseases.

He also alleged that the state government’s pre-monsoon cleaning drive was ineffective and it was why the state reported a spike in fever, dengue, leptospirosis, and other diseases.

Local Self Government Department Minister MB Rajesh raised the issue of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the Election Commission for not being able to properly coordinate the pre-monsoon cleaning drive meetings.

Satheesan countered it by saying that MCC was only against convening meetings but not for cleaning activities.

The LoP also cited a Union government report and said Kerala recorded the highest number of dengue cases and deaths in the country in 2023.

‘EnviStats India 2024’ of the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation provides state-wise data on nine diseases ‘closely linked to inadequate sanitation and hazardous environment’.

Kerala recorded 9,770 dengue cases and 37 deaths in 2023.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)

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