This study has been conducted to throw light on the knowledge and practices related to dengue fever among the poor population living in Delhi’s slums.
A household survey was conducted in 2013 among 3,350 households. The households were stratified by a number of variables related to socio-economic status and health events such as hospitalisation. The data collection was completed through face-to-face interviews conducted with the help of 25 field investigators.
About 8% of the households had at least one diagnosed dengue case. In comparison to the population surveyed, teenagers (15–19 years) and adults (30–34 years) were more affected whereas children under four years of age were underrepresented. Housewives are more affected by dengue (24%) compared to their share of the population surveyed (17%). Despite the fact that 77% of the respondents are worried about mosquitoes, only 43% of them monitor environment to avoid the presence of breeding sites.
One cannot exclude the possibility that though young children under the age of four years are exposed to the virus, either their cases were asymptomatic or family members infected during this period had potentially more serious symptoms leading to hospitalisation. This result could thus be explained by budget-related health choices made by this population which do not favour small children. Educational programs should target housewives to improve their impact, as they are the ones mostly responsible for water storage and cleanliness of the house and its neighbourhood. Even with a dengue experience and potentially an acute perception of the risk and its factors, a proper management of environmental conditions is lacking. This along with the fact that word-of-mouth is the main source of information quoted should be a message for municipality health workers to give door-to-door information on how to prevent breeding sites and dengue infection.