</arttitle> AHMEDABAD: Even as the country reels under a severe threat from a second onslaught of chikun gunia, people of Gujarat will never know the truth about how many really succumbed to the deadly bite of the aedes egypti mosquito in 2006. The real figure may remain as contorted as the word 'chikun gunia' means in Tanzanian language.
In a baffling revelation, the country's nodal agency for the prevention and control of vector borne diseases National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) maintains that were no deaths in Gujarat in 2006 and the 12 affected states in the country. The agency claimed this in the chikun gunia death status report for Gujarat and maintained the 'zero death' status till June 14 this year, on its website.
However, in a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by TOI, the Gujarat government contradicted NVBDCP's claim saying there were 10 chikun gunia deaths in Ahmedabad and one in Bhavnagar. The ministry of health and family welfare also informed the Lok Sabha that there were no chikun gunia deaths in the country in 2006. The World Health Organisation (WHO) quotes the NVBDCP report which says there have been no chikun gunia deaths in Gujarat or anywhere in India.
The state government's reply to TOI's RTI application claims that there have been 1.18 lakh suspected chikun gunia cases across the state, with 60,777 cases in Ahmedabad city alone.
Congress corporator from Ahmedabad Yusuf Saiyed filed an RTI application to the medical officer of health to find out the number of deaths registered every month in the last five years within Ahmedabad city. There were in all 31,496 deaths, which was unusually high compared to the expected 28,100 deaths calculated mathematically from the records of five years. Out of the additional 3,396 reported deaths, 3,112 additional deaths took place between August and November in 2006 as compared to the expected deaths from August to November calculated between 2002 and 2005.
"It's strange that out of the 2,818 suspected malaria cases, authorities reported 33 deaths and out of the 255 suspected dengue cases, authorities claim there were seven deaths.
Moreover, out of the 45,893 suspected chikun gunia cases in the city, authorities claim there were just 10 deaths in Ahmedabad in 2006. Whom is the government trying to fool?" questions Saiyed.