Dabbawalas to deliver WHO’s word

| Updated on: Apr 02, 2014
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Lunch boxes to carry messages on curbing spread of malaria, dengue

Mumbai’s iconic dabbawalas have been roped in by the World Health Organization (WHO) to spread awareness about diseases such as malaria and dengue.

On April 7, World Health Day, little tags with preventive messages on diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, flies and so on will be put on the approximately 400,000 tiffin boxes that the dabbawalas deliver every day, Ragunath D Medge, President of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust, told mediapersons.

The WHO’s awareness campaign, ‘Small bite, big threat,’ urges people to take steps to prevent disease.

Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India, said that vector-borne diseases account for 17 per cent of global infectious diseases and about 70 per cent of this affects poor and marginalised communities in developing countries.

Unplanned urban infrastructure that leave pools of stagnant water, climatic changes and air travel, are some reasons for the spike in the incidence of these diseases, she said.

Menabde was concerned about the resistance being seen in malaria, for instance, where medicines do not work on the patient. But drug companies cannot be forced to work on specific diseases, she said.

No quality concerns

Commenting on concerns over the quality of Indian drugs being raised by US regulatory authorities, she said it was a reputational risk. But different companies and countries faced similar issues, she said. Menabde stood by the quality of plants cleared by the WHO.

India broke the perception that anything that was cheap needed to be seen with suspicion, she said, an observation that would hearten local drug companies that supply inexpensive drugs to different markets.

In fact, the WHO is looking to expand the basket of drugs sourced from India beyond HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis to cardiac and other segments, too. However, she said, the WHO was concerned with India’s healthcare spending, which is just over 1 per cent of the GDP.

Published on March 12, 2018

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