Compared to the last several years, the health sector in the district got a big push at the infrastructure level in 2018. Prevention of communicable diseases, extending healthcare services to more areas, starting family health centers etc. had been other areas where the health authorities focused on during the year. It was in May, 2018 that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan laid the foundation stone of the much-awaited Cochin Cancer Research Center. A couple of months later, the foundation stone for the Rs 200-crore super specialty block of Ernakulam medical college was also laid. The work on Rs 79-crore projects including the construction of super specialty block began in Ernakulam general hospital. The leaner accelerator for giving advanced radiation treatment to cancer patients, set up at a cost of Rs 8 crore under the initiative of former MP and CPM leader P Rajeeve, was also launched in 2018. Raising concerns, a case of cholera was reported from the district in January 2018. It was a migrant laborer, who had just reached here from Murshidabad, who was diagnosed with the disease.
Later in July, another migrant laborer also was diagnosed with cholera. Given the fact that even a single case of cholera is considered as an outbreak, alarm bells were rung. However, no further cases were reported. Kala Azar or black fever has been reported from the Ponganchodu tribal settlement in Vengoor panchayat. Officials with the health department said that they could prevent further spread of the disease. Though the health department authorities claim that the number of H1N1 cases went down in 2018, four persons died of the disease. According to those engaged in the healthcare, the number of cases of H1N1 is higher than that of the official data. Many of the H1N1 cases were not diagnosed, they alleged. It is from the urban areas that more cases of H1N1 is reported. Ten cases of hepatitis A was also reported from ward number 7 and 8 of Puthenvelikkara grama panchayat near North Paravur. Meanwhile, dengue cases have come down significantly, health department officials said.
During the floods in August, everybody anticipated the outbreak of communicable diseases. Then, the health department came up with a program christened Sraddha. The four-pronged program helped prevent the spreading of communicable diseases, officials claimed and provided counselling to those in the flood hit areas. The program also gave stress on palliative care and treatment of noncommunicable diseases in flood hit areas. Under Athithi Devo Bhava project, which was designed for the healthcare of migrant laborers, helped prevention of communicable diseases in the areas where the number of migrant laborers is high. – TOI