Chikungunya fever, falciparum malaria, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis… are we listening to the warning signs for public health in India?
The 2005-6 epidemic of Chikungunya fever highlights the weaknesses of public health in India. The failure to control mosquitoes, and the illnesses transmitted by them, has resulted in recurrent outbreaks all over the country. This is inevitable given the larger scenario: neglect of the basic requirements of health; poor political support for health; a weak public health capacity; centralised programmes for control based on selective interventions, and poorly-planned development projects which have created conditions ideal for the outbreak of disease. All these issues are concerns for public health ethics and must be addressed to tackle the problems posed by mosquito-borne as well as other communicable diseases.
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