Dengue death audit underway

By Kumudini Hettiarachchi

A dengue-death audit for the first quarter of 2011 (January-February-March) is currently underway by two senior Consultants, the Sunday Times learns, with the team expected to present its findings to the Health Ministry this week.

It is a review of the dengue-deaths across the country and not a finger-pointing exercise, a health official was quick to say, a view echoed by many others. “It will help the country to fill the gaps and save as many lives as possible,” a source said.

The two-member panel comprising a Consultant Physician and a Consultant Paediatrician had been tasked by the Health Ministry last October with the responsibility of conducting the audit to strengthen the treatment of men, women and children stricken by this mosquito-borne viral disease, in the light of new management guidelines introduced last July.

Around 2,673 people have been affected by dengue with 29 deaths, in the first three months of this year, according to sources. Last year (2010) during the same period, 12,000 were hit by dengue and about 80 of them succumbed.

“There seems to be a drastic reduction in the number of people affected by dengue when comparing the figures of the first quarter of last and this year,” said a source, adding that as long as there is no dengue epidemic the system will not get over-burdened. Dengue is endemic to this country and if we have a constant number throughout the year it will be manageable, he said. It is important to implement the new guidelines, another source stressed, because that will save lives.

While the audit will see the process of management from the time of first contact with hospital authorities, be it state or private, to the time of death, the source pointed out that the panel during closed-door discussions with Consultants under whom the deaths had occurred should underscore the importance of following the guidelines.

Many doctors urged that the hospitals at which dengue deaths have occurred should be highlighted along with figures and what went wrong. Consultants should also be strongly advised to put their wards in order, a concerned source said.

One-third of dengue deaths are of children

Of the 29 people who have died of dengue this year, 10 are children, the Sunday Times learns.
Disturbingly, nine of these children are from Colombo and its suburbs, it is understood, with only one in the outstations.

When the Sunday Times checked where the nine deaths had occurred, it was found that six had been at major government hospitals and three at private hospitals.

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