The district is in an emergency mode to contain the spread of anthrax that has surfaced in the Agency area of Visakhapatnam.
Principal Secretary (Health) Poonam Malakondaiah, who held a review meeting on Wednesday with officials, who included the district Collector, the ITDA Project Officer, and the DMHO, asked the administration to convert all the PHCs in the Agency area into 24-hour hospitals with immediate effect. This apart, Ms. Malakondaiah asked the administration to upgrade the Paderu Area Hospital into a district-level hospital with at least 200 beds. She also asked the officials to see to it that at least five beds were arranged in each PHC.
She visited the Paderu hospital and Hukumpeta PHC along with Collector Pravin Kumar and ITDA Project Officer Ravi Patansetti.
She said steps would be taken to prevent the outbreak of seasonal diseases.
Incidence of anthrax came to light on Sunday last when five persons — K. Krishna (60), J. Somanna (45), G. Mangalayya (33), J. Gundu (50) and P. Gundu (38) — all from Kodipunjulavalasa of Araku mandal, were admitted to the King George Hospital (KGH) with symptoms of the disease. The affected persons reportedly consumed the meat of a goat 20 days ago. A week later, boils developed on their hands and fingers. They were shifted to the area hospital in Araku on June 24, where doctors suspected it to be a case of anthrax and shifted them to the KGH the following day.
‘Vacancies will be filled’
The Health Secretary said vacancies in the Medical and Health Department would be filled soon. She said the district administration had been advised to take up distribution of 21 lakh mosquito nets across the State.
She pointed out that the State government allocated ₹102 crore for supply of pure drinking water to girijan villages and efforts were on to improve telecommunication network in the tribal belts through the AP fiber grid project.
Ms. Malakondaiah also directed the authorities to take up chlorination of water to contain seasonal outbreak of malaria in the Agency area and keep sufficient stocks of medicines at the area hospitals and PHCs.
Criticising the government for failing to contain the outbreak of anthrax in the tribal villages, YSR Congress MLA from Paderu Giddi Eswari said: “Incidence of anthrax in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam is a recurring problem. But the government has not taken any step to create awareness among the tribal people.”
According to her, Kodipunjulavalasa has about 600 households and five persons have already been infected and hospitalised and another two are yet to be shifted.
“This is the worst season in the Agency areas. Tribal people fear this period as seasonal diseases such as malaria, anthrax and fevers are rampant and every year many of them die. The district administration is always in a fire-fighting mode and not pro-active,” she said.