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Malaria stings neighbouring states - Over 45000 cases in Jan; Odisha, Jharkhand among worst hit

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By A.S.R.P. MUKESH
  • Published 29.04.12
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Ranchi, April 28: Jharkhand, along with neighbouring Odisha, has reported the highest number of malaria cases in January, the stinging piece of statistic coming from a credible national survey which in effect exposes the state’s poor healthcare scenario that has been unable to control the spread of the disease.

According to the Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), approximately 46,617 malaria cases were confirmed in January alone and over half of these were reported in Jharkhand and Odisha.

If Odisha recorded over 14,500 cases, Jharkhand registered close to 11,000, according to data collated by the country’s nodal agency monitoring the spread and control of vector-borne diseases.

West Singhbhum has registered a shocking 1,288 cases, the highest so far, while Simdega (935), Palamau (872) and Latehar (838) have emerged as the districts with high incidence of malaria, a phenomenon not entirely unexpected given the frequency of policemen and CRPF jawans falling prey to the disease while fighting armed Maoists in the jungles of these districts.

Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dumka have logged lesser numbers, but are among the top 10 affected districts, while Jamtara with zero cases has emerged as the only place that has been spared the ill effects of the sting.

State malaria officer Pradeep Baskey said that a complete paralysis of the healthcare system in the districts explains the high numbers, especially in West Singhbhum home to the Saranda forests.

“It’s a region which is surrounded by vast forests with a significant number of people living in remote areas,” he said about West Singhbhum. “It’s one of the biggest districts but health facilities aren’t at par. There are many regions where there are no primary health centres.”

Simdega, which has recorded 935 malaria cases, is faced with a similar plight. Besides, poor or virtually non-existent healthcare facilities, lack of awareness was also key.

In July-August last year, around 127 security personnel involved in anti-Naxalite operations in Saran, Chaibasa, Latehar were struck by malaria. They had to be admitted in various district hospitals. Serious cases had to be flown in to Ranchi.

“We realise, lack of awareness among people is one of the major hindrances,” said P.K.Sinha, the district’s malaria officer. “We are currently distributing medicated nets, spraying medicines and using fogging machines at regular intervals but many a time, we have noticed that people don’t use the nets,” he explained.

In urban pockets, incidence of malaria is an indication of poor civic amenities. A senior officer of Ranchi’s Sadar Hospital said open drains and roadside garbage is the norm in the state capital and other towns of Jharkhand.

“Except VIP areas, proper cleanliness, and fogging of insecticide doesn’t take place on a regular basis. This is the reason behind the spread of malaria,” revealed the officer who did not wish to be identified.

Officials in the vector disease control programme directorate fear the figures could spark a scare, especially because they were up by 2 per cent from last year figures recorded in the corresponding months.

The only solace, maintained state health department officials in Jharkhand, was that there has been no malaria deaths so far in the year.