How does a health system come together to spread awareness at the community level around Vector Borne Diseases in the face of a pandemic? West Bengal leads the way, by organizing a unique painting competition in the year 2020.
With a surge in vector borne diseases in the monsoon and especially during a pandemic, neglecting preventive measures can lead to a spike in numbers and leave the health system overburdened.
With the pandemic impacting all large-scale social mobilization activities to raise awareness on vector-borne diseases (VBDs), especially around Anti-Malaria month (June) and Anti-Dengue month (July), in the year 2020, State officials of the National Vector Borne Disease Control (NVBDCP) wing, West Bengal organized a virtual, state-wide Painting Competition to prevent the spread of VBDs on the theme, “Amar gram ba parake patangobahito rog-mukto kora amar-o dayitwo” (i.e. I’ll make my neighbourhood free from Vector Borne Diseases). This unique social mobilization initiative was highly praised at the National level.
3135 people across all age groups in the state, participated in the competition and among those, 1832 paintings qualified under five VBD categories i.e. Malaria, Dengue, Kala-azar, Japanese Encephalitis and Lymphatic Filariasis. An expert panel selected 17 winners across these categories, and all participants received a digital “Certificate of Appreciation.”
In December 2020, these paintings were displayed at a three-day public exhibition at Swasthya Bhawan that was inaugurated by Mr. Narayan Swaroop Nigam, Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal.
Not only was this initiative appreciated by the Government of India and promoted on their official social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter), but the painting exhibition was also covered by leading media houses as well.
Today at Swasthya Bhawan, a prize distribution ceremony was held to honour the winners of this state-wide painting competition. This event was organized by the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of West Bengal and was inaugurated by Mr. Narayan Swaroop Nigam, Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal. Eminent dignitaries, Dr. Saumitra Mohan, Mission Director, National Health Mission, and Dr. Ajay Chakraborty, Director of Health Services, Government of West Bengal attended this event.
About the social mobilization initiative, Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare, Smt. Chandrima Bhattacharya said, “Awareness is the biggest cure for Vector-Borne Diseases. To prevent diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Kala-azar, Filaria, awareness among society is needed the most. Government is taking the best possible steps from urban to rural areas to intensify community awareness on vector borne diseases and to build a self-realization society where we would jointly take pride in making West Bengal free of vector-borne diseases. State Health Department also takes the accountability to sustain the Kala-azar elimination status, as well as to eliminate Filaria at the earliest from West Bengal.”
One of the 17 winners, Dr. Soma Dutta, Professor, Education Department of Jadavpur University said, “I am happy to win this trophy under the Kala-azar category. To participate in this competition, I have researched this disease thoroughly and now I am aware of preventive measures against Kala-azar. I feel more responsible and I’ll surely pass my knowledge to my students.”
According to another winner, Mr. Pralayankar Saha, “It was indeed a great social mobilization initiative by Department of Health & Family Welfare. I feel privileged to share such a great platform with other talented artists. Now I’ll be more active to keep my neighbourhood clean. We all have to do our bit to free our area from vector-borne diseases.”