From Times of India - Original
Govt Fails to Bring Down Malaria Incidence in Tribal Areas
DATELINE: 17 November 1999
BYLINE: Times of India News Service
RANCHI: The state government has so far failed to
eradicate malaria from tribal belts as many poor tribals have died recently because of this disease. Under the national
malaria eradication programme, the target was to bring
down the incidence of malaria in tribal areas to 0.5 cases per 1000 by the year 2000. But, according to a report of
the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), the
incidence of malaria in tribal areas varied from 3.03 cases per 1000 to 6 per 1000.
And in two districts, Ranchi and Singhbhum, the incidence
of fatal nature of malaria - Plasmodium falciparum - was as high as 70 to 88 per cent of the malaria positive cases
detected during 1992-97. In other parts of the state, it
ranged from 61 to 65 per cent.
While the incidence was higher, the malaria officials failed to
provide radical treatment to 48,000 positive cases during
1992- 97. It is also worth noting that while the average rate of blood examination was very low, tests of blood samples were also delayed.
Added to this is the 'doubtful consumption' of 37.32 tonnes of DDT, valued at Rs 23.7 lakh. DDT worth Rs 1.16 crore
was wasted in three districts because only one round of
DDT was used, instead of the mandatory two rounds.
What is worse is that less than ten out of 100 fever
treatment and drug distribution centres functioned. The
malaria eradication [sic-Webmaster] efforts also suffered because laboratory
facility was not adequate: one for 20,000 in tribal areas and one for 30,000 in non-tribal areas. And, in five high risk
districts of South Bihar, 51 per cent vacancies of lab
technicians were not filled. Added to this, the failure in distributing machinery and other items, like 96 out of 97
microscopes were not issued till August 1998.
Even under urban malaria scheme the state government's
role was critical as collection of blood smears was only 1 to 1.5 per cent. Consequently, incidence of malaria cases
increased during 1992-97. Also, the state government
failed to send names of three towns for coverage by the
government of India. Finally, the government of India's
scheme for malaria, introduced in 1995, was not started in Bihar.
Did the flaws, mentioned above, in dealing with malaria
menace led to the recent deaths in Hazaribagh and other
areas of the state. Though Hazaribagh health officials,
charged with negligence, say only 35 died of malaria, some voluntary organisations had made a list of 65 dead in 28
villages around the Giddi colliery area alone, till November 2. Some more deaths came to notice, taking the figure to
more than 100.
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