let the battle begin: The riders with their bikes in Shillong. Telegraph picture
Shillong, Dec. 12: Mobikes have become the new instrument of war against malaria in Meghalaya.
This unique project launched by the state government will see a dozen science graduates criss-crossing the interior areas of West Khasi Hills and East Garo Hills on 12 motorcycles to help the health department combat malaria.
The mobikes have been specially procured for the project that was launched last evening.
The 12 riders, known as malaria technical supervisors (MTSs), have been appointed for one year on a contract basis with a monthly salary of Rs 6,500 each. They are BSc graduates from the Regional Medical and Research Centre, Dibrugarh.
A health department official said the 12 youths would travel to the interior areas, which do not have motorable roads, to bring blood slides quickly to the health centres. “The mobikes will help the 12 workers to travel fast on the hilly roads and return with the slides for examination.” They riders will also carry mobile phones for speedy communication.
The deputy director of health services (malaria), N. Nongrum, today said the bike riders would help to carry blood samples from the accredited social health activists (ASHA), the female voluntary community health workers at the village level, to the primary health centres and community health centres for testing.
The health workers take blood samples from villagers suffering from fever, but the testing takes time as the volunteers have to travel long distances to reach the nearby health centres.
This delays the distribution of medicines.
The bike riders will carry the blood samples to the nearest health centre much faster, accelerating the subsequent processes of treatment. “With the help of the MTSs, we will be able to detect and treat malaria early, thereby reducing the number of malaria cases,” Nongrum said.
The malaria technical supervisors will also be entrusted with the task of supervising the disease in every block. They will ensure prompt collection of blood samples by health workers as well as the distribution of medicines.
When there are no health workers in the villages, the supervisors can collect the blood samples themselves and provide treatment. “The aim is enhanced supervision so that deaths due to malaria can be prevented,” Nongrum said.
Till September last year, there were 198 malaria deaths in the state. This was reduced to 56 till September this year with the deployment of ASHAs. “We hope with the supervision of MTSs, the deaths due to malaria could be reduced drastically,” she added.