19 cases of disease contracted indigenously

There has been a rise in the number of malaria cases in the district.

The district malaria office on Monday confirmed 117 cases of the disease this year. But a more worrying statistic is that in 19 cases, malaria has been contracted indigenously, revealing that the source of infection is within the district.

“In these 19 cases, the infected people have no history of travel. Tthe infection was not imported but received from local sources within Kozhikode,” sad Vimal Raj, District Malaria Officer, Kozhikode.

Compared to 19 malaria cases contracted locally this year, only one case was reported to have been contracted indigenously in 2012.

Official figures show there is a steep rise in the number of malaria cases in the past five months. While there was one case of malaria reported in March, 5 were detected in April, 3 in July and 10 in August this year. Of this, a majority of 10 cases have been detected within the Kozhikode Corporation, raising serious health concerns for city dwellers. Four of the 19 cases have been found in Beypore alone.

The Health Department, however, says the situation is “under control”.

The authorities concerned blame the migrant labour population for the spread of the disease in the district.

“The rise in indigenous malaria cases is due to the presence of migrant labourers from Odisha and West Bengal,” said P.K. Mohanan, District Medical Officer, Kozhikode.

As per news reports, Odisha has recorded the maximum number of cases of malaria in the country at 89,466 this year followed by Chhattisgarh.

The District Malaria Office said besides migrant workers, whom they term as “high malaria carriers”, other sources of infection include shallow wells and improperly covered overhead tanks. They said Beypore had been categorised as a “high-risk” area in the district due to the large presence of migrant labourers and shallow wells.

High-alert areas

Other high-alert areas include Cheruvannur, Feroke, Olavanna and mostly all the areas in Kozhikode Corporation, which are poorly equipped and cash-strapped to handle a health emergency like this.

“We have only bleaching powder. A knob is missing in our fogging machine. We have been trying to find a spare part, without success. All we can do is chlorination. The spread of the disease is mostly due to migrant workers in the Corporation limits,” Janamma Kunjhunni, chairperson of the Corporation’s Standing Committee on Health, said.

But excuses apart, the Corporation does not have a Health Officer. The post has been lying vacant for the past two years. There is also a severe shortage of medical and paramedical staff at its 25 rural health centres and eight dispensaries.

“Our monthly expense on salary of the 700 staffers and 500 official vehicles is about Rs. 1.70 crore.

The government is not providing us sufficient funds. Things have become complicated after the number of wards was increased from 55 to 75 recently,” Ms. Kunjhunni said.

Meeting

Efforts to bring the health situation under control have begun on a war-footing after a meeting of Health officials with Additional Director, Public Health Pradeep Kumar here on Monday.

“We will start a two-week anti-malaria drive in the high-risk areas of the district. Junior Health Inspectors will be deployed to visit at least 100 houses a day and collect blood samples for tests,” Mr. Raj said.

Mr. Raj said about Rs. 7 lakh was available from National Vector-borne Disease Control Programme for anti-malaria activities in the district.

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