Fishermen travel to other centres during trawling ban

Even as the district health administration managed to contain the spread of malaria in the coastal belt of Vizhinjam this season through intensive vector control and fever survey activities, the cropping up of fresh, ‘imported' cases in the locality has been throwing a spanner in the works.

About ten cases of malaria, including a few ‘indigenous' (infections which originated locally) cases, had been reported in the Kottappuram-Pallithura area in Vizhinjam last month. With intensive control measures, the cases could be contained from spreading across the entire coastal belt, but on Tuesday, a fresh case of malaria was reported again in the locality.

“This again turned out to be an ‘imported' case, the fisherman who got the infection, having travelled to a neighbouring fishing centre in Tamil Nadu. Malaria is rampant in some coastal districts of Tamil Nadu but with the trawling ban in place, the fishermen here will make regular trips to these areas and could bring fresh cases of malaria into the locality,” a health official pointed out.

Once an ‘imported' case of infection appears in a locality, where the mosquito population is quite high, it will not be long before it results in local malaria outbreaks.

Officials also pointed out that the 140-odd unused or idling boats on the beach, lying open to the elements, were a constant source for vector breeding.

Despite getting the Church authorities and the local councillors involved, the problem of boats turning into vector-breeding sites has not been resolved. The health field staff have been appealing to the local people and the Church that the problem of malaria resurgence could be solved to a large extent if the boats could be kept upside down. The health officials are meeting the local parish authorities again next week to discuss the problem.

The control measures yielded good results because the Health Department had deployed all its field staff from Thiruvallom and Mukkola primary health centres also at Vizhinjam. But this cannot be a permanent arrangement and the control activities might slump once these staff go back, officials fear.