KERALA

Joining hands to fight malaria

An organised campaign to control malaria, launched with community participation in the coastal belts of Pozhiyoor and Poovar in Kulathoor grama panchayat, has proved to be successful in checking the spread of the disease.

Although the vector control and disease management strategies implemented through the programme, `Bye Bye Malaria,' are just temporary measures, the success of the venture was the level of community participation and networking it could generate, district health administration officials point out.

The fortnight-long programme for mosquito control activities and fever management was launched on June 13 after two children, aged 8 years and 12 years, at Paruthiyoor, near Pozhiyoor, tested positive for the lethal form of malaria, caused by the organism Plasmodium Falciparum.

After it was confirmed that both were indigenous cases of malaria, Health officials swung into action. Along with control activities, it was decided to intensify information and education campaigns in the community with the help of the vast networks of Kudumbasree and anganwadi workers.

Health officials conducted a door-to-door visit in all the coastal wards in Kulathoor grama panchayat, including Paruthiyoor, Vellimon, South Kollangode and Poypallivilakam. Officials visited 4,497 houses in these areas and a total of 471 cases of fever were detected. Blood samples were collected from all fever patients and sent for malaria testing.

However, as a precaution, health officials started treatment with chloroquin tablets. Health workers who surveyed the premises in all residential areas also found several vector breeding sources and destroyed these. The residents were educated on the importance of source reduction for checking mosquito population.

Indoor residual spraying was launched intensively in these areas and insecticides were sprayed in all stagnant water bodies. About 24 rounds of fogging were conducted in these areas. In water bodies like wells and tanks, where pesticides could not sprayed, guppy fishes were deposited. Garbage disposal was done systematically and bleaching powder was strewn in places used as garbage dumps.

Source traced

Health officials also traced the source of the sudden appearance of malaria to an outbreak at Eraviputhanthurai, on the Tamil Nadu border, five km away from Pozhiyoor.

The urgency with which the community had responded to the situation on hand had actually help contain the spread of malaria as no more fresh cases were reported from the area in the last one month.

However, G. Sunilkumar, medical officer at the Poovar community health centre, who led the campaign says that long-term and permanent measures are required in the region for disease surveillance and for improving the living conditions of the coastal folk.

C. Maya

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