South Delhi Municipal Corporation civic body goes the app way to tackle dengue, chikungunya

New Delhi: The fight against dengue and chikungunya in Delhi goes digital as the South Delhi Municipal Corporation launches an app to check breeding of mosquitos in 16 vulnerable wards.

The new app to contain the menace of dengue and chikungunya that claimed at least 36 lives last year was launched at a time when every downpour of rain breeds fear of an outbreak of the endemic among citizens.

Fogging is on to free an area of mosquitoes. Reuters

Fogging is on to free an area of mosquitoes. Reuters

"It is a pilot project which can be extended to the other parts of the city later on," said BK Hazarika, Municipal Health Officer of the SDMC told Firstpost.

He said that the app uses GPS technology through the internet to track the movement of the Domestic Breeding Checkers (DBC) through various localities and avail the information about the breeding of dengue and chikungunya mosquitos in real time.

The SDMC has nearly 1,300 domestic breeding checkers who visit households in the localities assigned to them.

"The DBCs check if breeding of mosquito has happened in fresh and stagnant water in any part of the household and destroy the larvae when found. They also report higher authorities about the vulnerability status of every household for further action," said Arun Chauhan, a public health official in the Najafgarh zone of SDMC.

Dengue and chikungunya are caused by the bite of infected female aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitos breed in clean and stagnant water that is normally available in overhead tanks, underground tanks, air coolers, bird pot, money plant, flower pots, bamboo grass, tray, buckets and any solid waste having clean water in the households.

Rain water remaining stagnant intensifies the threat of an outbreak in the monsoons.

"But destroying mosquito larvae by the DBCs while house to house checking itself is not enough to prevent an outbreak," he said.

The health officer said that there are many reasons why a locality continues to be under threat of a possible outbreak even after the larvae is destroyed.

"Firstly once the aedes aegypti mosquito finds a place to breed, it normally spreads its breeding area upto 200 metres. Secondly, once a mosquito gets infected by the dengue or chikungunya, at least 18 generations after it continues to remain infected due to transovarian transmission," the public health officer said.

Chauhan said that immediately after the DBCs find larvae in a household a dedicated drive to eliminate the mosquito is required to be taken in a radius of 200 metre of that house.

"But that step normally used to take a week to be taken. For the data of mosquito breeding was stored manually in a register and real-time transfer of data to the concerned officials remained nearly impossible," he said.

By the time the information reaches the concerned official, the menace would go out of control.

"For it hardly takes eight to 10 days for egglings to grow to adult mosquitos and delay in launching the elimination drive by a week is enough to cause a havoc," Chauhan said.

An elimination drive normally consists of fogging, focal spray and sensitisation in the area.

The new app will do away with this problem by providing real-time data to the concerned officials.

"The domestic breeding checkers will now carry a tablet computer with the app installed in it. They will record the vulnerability status of every home they visit, which will keep the officials of the public health department updated. As soon as they record breeding of mosquitos in the home the information will flow to the concerned officials in real-time with the exact location of the house after which the elimination drive can be initiated," he said.

The SDMC has distributed 200 tablet computers among the DBCs to carry out the drive in the 16 wards.

Hazarika said that the new app will also help the SDMC authorities to keep tab of the breeding checking activities carried out by the DBCs.

There are constant complaints from the public that the DBCs do not visit many households for months, which increases the vulnerability of the localities to an outbreak.

But SDMC officials say that often DBCs find many houses locked, for which they cannot visit them.

"The work of the DBCs are distributed in such a manner that a locality is visited by them only once in an interval of one-and-half to two months. In Najafgarh zone our present strength of only 248 DBCs does not allow us to have more visits than that. If the house owner remains absent on that particular day, it is very much likely that his home may remain uncovered," said Chauhan.

Hazarika said the new app will record uncovered houses so that further action can be taken to eliminate the threat.

Updated Date: Jul 08, 2017 17:19 PM

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