Every citizen should participate, says expert
For Chennai, this Monday was a crucial day, in terms of fighting one of its most troublesome vectors - the mosquito. As Malaria Day was observed elsewhere in the world, in Chennai, the thrust was on providing awareness to residents on ways of preventing malarial infections.
Though an infectious disease, whether a person contracts malaria or not, also depends substantially on how clean the surrounding environments are, public health experts say.
“Our focus in the civic body is to control breeding of mosquitoes. This is primary prevention. The health department monitors the density of mosquitoes periodically, and adopts fogging and spraying of larvicides to control this,” explains Corporation Commissioner D. Karthikeyan.
The civic body is also focussing on spreading awareness among the residents. Some of the messages that are part of the package include suggestions to close overhead tanks and well, prevent water stagnation within homes, and not let sewage or sullage into stormwater drains, Corporation health officer P.Kugananthan says.
One of the major causes of mosquito breeding is water stagnation, the city health officer adds. This includes water at construction sites, improper hygiene and sanitation at colonies of migrant workers, and in house breeding.
“The Corporation is fighting the mosquito menace by frequent fogging and spraying water sources across the city. Removal of water hyacinths on the Cooum river with earthmovers and old tyres that collect water and lead to breeding of mosquitoes are top on our agenda,” he adds.
Every time a case of malaria is reported, a mapping exercise is undertaken to intensively fog and spray the larvicides in all surrounding areas, Dr. Karthikeyan explains.
Requests to undertake additional fogging in areas can be made on the Corporation's helpline (1913). Intensive testing for malaria is also active in all the civic body's health centres.
However, Dr. Kugananthan's emphasis is that fighting malaria is a community initiative – every citizen should be aware of this and participate. “Everyone can contribute by doing what little they can do – within their homes, or in their own small community,” he adds.
Director of Public Health R.T.Porkaipandian also stressed that the key is to avoid water stagnation. Residents in areas where the mosquito density is high are advised to use special pyrethrin nets at night.
“We also do indoor residual spraying within homes once in three months,” he claims.
Former Director of Public Health S.Elango says one needs to be aware of ‘travellers' malaria' caused by the migration of people from place to place, particularly from endemic zones. These carriers get bitten by mosquitoes which then transmit the virus to others.