Deaths from TB, cholera may wipe out lives saved during lockdown: Health expert

Deaths from TB, cholera may wipe out lives saved during lockdown: Health expert

Neglect of diseases like TB and cholera during the lockdown may wipe out lives potentially saved by the Covid-19-induced enforcement measure, says a public health expert.

Professor, Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad, Public Health Foundation of India, V Ramana Dhara said one has got to consider the invisible loss of life from the rise in poverty-related diseases like TB, malnutrition and cholera, which may be neglected while the "lockdowns are ongoing".

"The deaths resulting from these diseases could wipe out the lives potentially saved by the lockdowns. One should view this epidemic as Mother Nature's reaction to the rampant ecological damage caused by humans leading to animal habitat loss and resultant contact between humans and animals," Ramana Dhara told PTI in an interview on Sunday.

On his assessment of the Covid-19 situation in India, Ramana Dhara noted that clearly the amount of cases as on Saturday of 125,000 has exceeded the anticipated 100,000 by May-end and is constant to rapidly rise.

"While the case deathrate is holding steady, overall mortality is more important, but there could also be an under-count if some deaths might not be tested for Covid-19, (example: people dying at home)", Ramana Dhara said.

Ramana Dhara is an occupational/environmental medicine physician board-certified by the American Board of medicine in Occupational Medicine and therefore the American Board of Independent doctors .

India's fraction of the elderly population is below 10 per cent, which can account for the lower mortality. However, if a big portion of deaths aren't tested for Covid, which will also end in lower mortality (where deaths occurring reception aren't tested), he said.

According to him, most models predict a unbroken rise in cases with no peak in view within the country.

"If there eventually may be a dip, we've to be prepared for a possible second wave almost like the 1918 Spanish flu. there's currently no thanks to tell if this may occur," said Ramana Dhara who, as a member of the International Medical Commission on Bhopal disaster, has designed and published the long-term health effects studies on the exposed community.

His work on exposure assessment within the gas victims is getting used as a teaching tool in environmental epidemiology.

"Since there's no vaccine or proven treatment yet, we will only believe the hygiene measures," he said when asked on what else must be done on an urgent basis additionally to wearing masks, and maintaining physical distancing.

"It is imperative that these measures must be strictly implemented. We are seeing a return to the old ways of indiscipline with the partial lifting of the lockdowns. The virus will certainly spread and that we are already witnessing the increase within the number of cases.

The hospitals got to be urgently prepared with oxygen and ventilatory support and ICU beds," he added.

Ramana Dhara, the previous Medical Director of the Occupational Health Clinics, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Atlanta, the US, said the lockdown must be lifted from June one to allow economic productivity to rise.

"However, hygiene measures must be strictly implemented by policing. Otherwise, the rapid rise in cases may even see a return of the lockdowns. One can consider lockdowns in certain containment zones counting on specific public health criteria as outlined within the Kerala model", he said.

On his assessment about eventual Covid-19 deaths in India, Ramana Dhara said: there's no thanks to predict this, but we must prepare our health systems to tackle severe cases.