A malaria patient at the emergency ward of MGM Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Stung by eight cerebral malaria deaths and having witnessed five diarrhoea fatalities this malignant monsoon, the East Singhbhum district is deploying its entire force of multipurpose health workers (MPHWs) in urban areas for the first time.
If summoned through two designated helplines, these health workers will visit every doorstep with rapid diagnostic kits to conduct blood tests and effect timely treatment.
District malaria officer L.B.P. Singh said the decision to deploy MPHWs was taken after a meeting with East Singhbhum civil surgeon Jagat Bhushan Prasad on Monday evening.
According to Singh, more than 1,500 cases of malaria and around 300 cases of diarrhoea have been detected at various hospitals of the steel city in the past fortnight.
In a late Tuesday afternoon development, two more deaths were reported at MGM Medical College and Hospital, though both victims are from adjoining Seraikela Kharsawan district.
Janmejay Tantubai (35) of Chandil had been undergoing treatment for malaria for the past two days, while Saroj Singh (30) of Saherbera succumbed to diarrhoea.
A World Bank-funded programme for delivery of preventive and promotive healthcare at the grassroot level, multipurpose health workers were first introduced in East Singhbhum in 2008.
Today, there are 106 such health workers who control various endemic diseases such as malaria especially in rural pockets.
“But now, the entire city has been divided into nine malaria zones. These are Mango, Bhuiyandih, Ghaghidih, Bagbera, Jugsalai, Birsanagar, Baridih, Govindpur and Parsudih. The MPHWs will go to every diseased doorstep and collect blood samples for spot tests. They will also guide patients to the nearest medical centre for timely treatment,” the malaria officer said.
He added that this special health force was trained to conduct the tests and a blood sample could confirm or negate presence of the malarial parasite within a matter of a minute.
Civil surgeon Prasad said he had directed Singh to demarcate one MPHW for every 10,000 people in the malaria-sensitive zones.
“The health workers will visit homes based on information received on the helplines of my office or the district malaria department. We have also drawn up a roster so that MPHWs visit sensitive pockets every day. This will be in addition to their rural duty chart,” he said. The district filaria department, meanwhile, has been entrusted with the job of spraying larvicides. “Twenty-five employees of the filaria department will spray larvicides in areas cleaned by different local urban bodies (Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee, Mango Notified Area Committee and Jugsalai Municipality). A roster system will also be applicable for this job,” the civil surgeon added.