Raipur: Buoyed with the success of its two-phased ‘Malaria Mukt Bastar’ programme to control the disease in the Naxal-affected division, the Chhattisgarh government has now decided to extend the scheme across the state.
The programme will first be extended to 300 villages of the state’s north-eastern Surguja division, which is known for high incidence of malaria, once considered to be more lethal than Naxalism in the state.
Officials in the state health department told ThePrint that the first phase of the drive in Surguja will be launched by the end of this month or early December. The third phase in Bastar will be launched simultaneously.
The government has also decided to change the programme nomenclature to ‘Malaria Mukta Chhattisgarh’, looking to make it a statewide mission in coming days.
Chhattisgarh Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo said the malaria-free programme in Bastar was an intensive drive launched by the government to arrest the Annual Parasite Incidence (API) in the Maoist-infested region. It has yielded encouraging results as there was 65.5 per cent sharp decline in the number of cases in September compared to last year.
“’Malaria Mukt Bastar’ has been a very good experience for people and the state government. Building on ‘Malaria Mukt Bastar’, we are now going ahead with ‘Malaria Mukt Chhattisgarh’ that will be launched in December,” said Deo.
“Initially it will be implemented to the parts of Surguja — in addition to ongoing drive in Bastar — where the rate of malaria prevalence is considered very high. Several villages have been identified to be covered in the first phase. It will subsequently be implemented in other parts of the state as well,” he added.
The Bastar success
All seven districts in the Bastar region have witnessed a sharp decline in malaria cases amid the two-phased programme between January and July.
According to the health department data, malaria incidences in Bastar fell from 4,230 in September 2019 to 1,454 this year.
While the central Bastar region comprising Narayanpur, Dantewada and Bastar districts saw a 55 per cent fall, Kanker, Kondagaon, Bijapur and Sukma districts witnessed nearly 73 per cent decline in cases in this period.
“As many as 300 villages with a high rate of incidence of malaria have been identified in Surguja division following feedback from the field staff and survey reports. Although more details could not be shared at this stage but the first phase of ‘Malaria Mukt Chhattisgarh’ will take off by November end or early December along with the third phase of the drive in Bastar,” said Dr Priyanka Shukla, mission director of the National Health Mission in the state.
According to the data, the two-phased test and treatment drive covered nearly all 6,000 villages in the region with a population of nearly 37.8 lakh.
“Around 94,722 cases were detected positive in Bastar region. Of these 54,844 cases were asymptomatic whereas 39,878 positive cases had symptoms. All who tested positive were provided medicinal doses and were also guided how to take medicines by more than 4,300 doctors and other health workers in the intensive malaria free drive taken up in January-February and June-July 2020,” said Shukla.
Deo stressed that the statewide campaign will chart the same course as followed in Bastar.
“Health workers will reach out to screen every individual in the targeted areas and inoculate first dose medicines to those found positive. However, monitoring will be followed up by ‘Mitanins’ (female health volunteers) working with the health department,” the minister added.