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Since 1st March, 1999
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Alert after sting deaths
- Malignant malaria kills 12

Alipurduar, June 5: The state health department has sounded an alert in Jalpaiguri district after 12 persons died of malignant malaria in the past two months. Two of the deaths occurred on Tuesday.

The deputy director of health services (malaria), S. K. Sil, who had come from Calcutta to review the situation, visited the Alipurduar subdivisional hospital last night, where seven persons suffering from the disease have been admitted.

“We have issued the alert throughout the Jalpaiguri district. Health staff have been instructed to collect blood samples where malaria has been detected and start preventive medication of people residing in the areas,” Sil said.

The official death toll because of the mosquito-borne disease at the subdivisional hospital was eight. This includes the deaths of Rahima Bibi, 25, and Biswanath Rabi Das, 25, on Tuesday at the Alipurduar subdivisional hospital and Amar Munda, 7, who died last week while being brought to the hospital. Four more deaths were reported from other parts of the subdivision.

The deputy director said his department would review the work of the NGOs and the performance of the health workers.

Today, he held a meeting with all block medical officers of health in Jalpaiguri and told them that collecting blood samples from fever patients should be made mandatory throughout the district. "We are also making arrangements to distribute medicated mosquito nets that need not be re-medicated for four years.” In the earlier nets, the medicinal property lasted for two years.

According to Sil, the tea gardens were very prone to malaria caused by the plasmodium vivax and the malignant malaria by plasmodium falciparrum parasites. “The estates are supposed to have their own doctors, but unfortunately our health teams have to rush there when there is news of a malaria or gastroenteric outbreak. The other problem is that the people bring patients at a time when they are almost beyond help,” he said.

Yesterday, the additional chief medical officer of health of Alipurduar, Debashis Sarkar, who had toured the Alipurduar I and Kalchini blocks, said: “There is a communication gap between NGOs and the health staff. The NGOs complained that blood was not collected and medicines not distributed properly.”

Asim Majumdar, the president of the Kalchini branch of the Family Planning Association of India, alleged that the effort by the health department was not intensive enough. “The government should involve more people like local clubs to impart information on malaria prevention,” Majumdar said.

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