India has found itself among the top 20 countries with the highest reported cases and deaths due to dengue in the year 2023, marking a significant increase compared to the past five years, as per a report released by the aid agency Save the Children on Sunday.
Between January and November 2023, a staggering 5 million cases of dengue fever were recorded across the 20 most affected countries. This represented a 30% increase compared to 2022 and an 18% rise from the figures in 2019. The report also highlighted that at least 5,500 people lost their lives due to dengue across these countries, including India. This marked a 32% increase from 2022 and an 11% rise compared to 2019.
The actual numbers of cases and deaths are likely much higher, considering that many cases go unreported. Bangladesh, with the highest known global death toll, experienced its worst dengue fever outbreak on record in 2023, with over 300,000 infections since January. This was a significant surge from the 62,000 cases reported in 2022, resulting in 1,598 deaths, including over 160 children under the age of 10.
The report attributed the spike in dengue cases to this year's El Nino event combined with the ongoing climate crisis. Save the Children emphasized the need for local plans to combat dengue at both the village and city levels, involving communities. Controlling mosquitoes, diagnosing the disease, and treatment should be a government-wide effort and not just the responsibility of health departments. The report also called for better funding anticipation for extreme weather and climate shocks to manage risks rather than just crises. Dengue fever is a viral infection transmitted through mosquito bites, causing flu-like symptoms and, in severe cases, leading to potentially fatal conditions such as dengue haemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome. The World Health Organization had reported in July that dengue cases had surged eight-fold in just over two decades.
(With Agency Inputs)