With no respite in situation, the incidence of falciparum malaria is assuming epidemic proportions in the Agency belt of Visakhapatnam.

At Gannela Primary Health Centre, out of 40 cases registered this month, a majority have been diagnosed with falciparum malaria.

“All cases have been confirmed as falciparum malaria at our PHC and we are giving timely treatment,” Vishnupriya, PHC medical officer told a team of reporters from Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.

The PHC in Araku mandal covers 158 hamlets spread over eight panchayats.

Enquiries reveal that the cases identified by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) have not been included in the list of malaria patients being reported by PHCs in the agency to the higher authorities.

“We are asked to use rapid diagnosis kits wherever required. We also send the blood smears for slide tests to diagnose it clinically,” Lakoi Lakshmi, ASHA worker from Bishnamguda, said.

She could bring one patient to Gannela PHC whereas Killo Jamuna and KilloMutyalamma, who were tested malaria positive by her through rapid diagnosis kits, refused to trek a distance of five km to reach the PHC.

The ANMs and the ASHA workers have been advised to administer the drugs to patients on time.

However, in most cases it was found that the tribals discontinue the course midway through developing drug resistance.

“Four patients referred to the Community Health Centre at Araku died recently due to cerebral malaria,” Araku ZPTC member Killo Surendra told The Hindu.

Vacant posts of doctors and paramedical staff in 33 PHCs in 11 agency mandals in the district have also forced the authorities to provide care to patients only during daytime despite in-patient facility. Posts of one Additional District Medical and Health Officer, one deputy civil surgeon, 23 civil assistant surgeons and several staff nurses are vacant.

Free food scheme

About 2,200 malaria cases were confirmed at the recent meeting of Zilla Parishad. CPI (M) district secretary Ch. Narsinga Rao launched free food scheme at the PHCs.

He said for want of food, many poor tribals were not able to continue their treatment in hospitals and decried the authorities for trying to downplay the gravity of the situation.

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