‘Our sons, daughters are dying without treatment,’ 84 children among 110 to die of dengue in Firozabad

A father was forced to carry his 5-year-old son’s body in Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad district (Photo: Siraj Qureshi/India Today)

A serious outbreak of dengue fever has taken hold in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, as Firozabad district, the most hit region in the state continues to grapple with the outbreak with six more deaths reported in 24 hours, taking the toll to 110 till Saturday afternoon.

Out of 110, 84 were children. At least 578 cases of dengue have been confirmed in Firozabad district in the past two weeks. Two-third of them are children.

More than 150 people, many of them children, are known to have died across the state.  Agra, Mathura and Mainpuri have also recorded some cases of viral infections. The disease often takes off in monsoon season, but poor sanitation and healthcare are compounding it. The infection is regarded as a major international health concern, with at least two and a half billion people around the world at risk of being infected.

“Lack of sanitation and hygiene is the main reason behind the dengue outbreak in Firozabad district. The worst-affected areas are near unclean drains and places affected by waterlogging. To put a tab on the breeding of the mosquitoes, we have discharged 25,000 ‘gambusia’ or mosquito larvae eating fish in stagnant water. Anti-larvae spraying is also being done along with a massive cleaning drive,” state health department additional director AK Singh told reporters.

He also admitted that an investigation by authorities found that an initial treatment by quacks in slum and rural areas was a major reason for the sudden increase in the number of cases.

Reports say that the lack of beds and doctors in government and private hospitals made matters worse for many.

As cases spiked in the district, hospital occupancy also increased, with two or more patients occupying a single bed at the hospitals including Firozabad Medical College.

A five-year-old child suffering from fever breathed his last after waiting for a bed to become available at Firozabad Medical College. Five-year-old Hritik — who was suffering from very high fever — did not receive urgent medical care. He died after waiting for more than five hours for a bed to become available at the medical facility, according to Times Now.

“I requested them (private hospital) to start the treatment and give me a day’s time to arrange the money. But they refused… On Thursday, I took my son to medical college. Here, I waited for a bed. My son died in the afternoon without treatment. Hospital staff handed over the body. There were no arrangements,” Rajkumar said.

In another incident, a local resident Ashok Kumar said his 10-year-old daughter died after she was denied proper treatment.

“My 10-year-old daughter was suffering from high fever for two days. Her condition deteriorated on Saturday. I took her to the Firozabad medical college, but there was no vacant bed. My child died on the way to a hospital in Agra,” he said.

Following the criticisms of medical negligence and the state government’s inefficiency in handling the outbreak, the state government on Friday was forced to suspend health officer of the municipal corporation in Firozabad.