In a bid to assess the actual cause of death due to communicable diseases and to find means to avoid such deaths in Kerala, the state government has given shape to a Death Audit Committee.
The Death Audit Committee will be analysis the deaths due to communicable diseases in each of the district every month. The committee would also see if the cause leading to the death could have been avoided. The health department thinks that a clear cut analysis of the cause leading to the deaths would help in planning strategies to tackle communicable diseases in the future.
The committee would be meeting once a month and evaluate the death investigation reports and death audit reports from the districts. The committee would be giving its report to the State Surveillance Officer.
In case the reason for the death could not be traced, the Death Audit Committee can go for ‘verbal autopsy’. It is a method to determine the cause of death in cases where no medical record is found. The nine member Death Audit Committee is also empowered to give training to health officials in the district level for assessing the actual death cause in communicable diseases.
Dr Selvarajan Chjettiyar (Assistant Professor, general Medicine, Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College), Dr Sheela Sugunan (Assistant professor, Paediatrics, Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College), Dr Jyoti R (Associate professor, Microbiology, Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College), Dr Tony Lawrence (Associate professor, community medicine, Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College), Dr Anul V Assistant director, Public health), Dr Shyam Sunder (medicine consultant, Thiruvanathapuram general hospital), Dr Bennet Zylam (paediatrics consultant, Women and Children Hospital, Thycaud) Dr Renuka ( Microbiologist, State P H Lab) and Dr Sumi ( Junior Administrative Medical officer, Health Directorate) are the members of the committee.
Despite Kerala being on top of health indices, the state is not completely free from the grip of communicable diseases. The data of January – April 2019 from the Directorate of health services shows that three deaths of dengue, two deaths from acute encephalitis syndrome, two from leptospirosis, one death each from hepatitis A and hepatitis B, 5 deaths from diarrhoea, two from Kysanur Forest disease and 12 deaths from H1N1.
In 2018, Kerala saw 32 dengue deaths, 15 deaths from acute encephalitis syndrome, two deaths from Japanese encephalitis, 99 deaths from leptospirosis, five hepatitis A and seven hepatitis B deaths, one diphtheria death, 12 deaths from diarrhoea, 50 deaths from H1N1 and 16 deaths from Nipah.