By Pinaki Das
Agartala, Jan 22 : The Border Security Force (BSF) has initiated an innovative plan, called "Intensified Malaria Action Plan," in the wake of increasing number of jawans falling ill due to malaria in Tripura. The action plan includes the provision of facemasks to jawans posted on the border.
Nineteen sentinels posted on Tripura-Mizoram sector have lost their lives due to malaria in the last three years.
The BSF and the CRPF jawans deployed to man the border and contain the extremist activities, fall prey to the dreadful disease. In most of the cases, the affected personnel are given treatment at local health centres.
The ailing soldiers recover, but the illness recurs.
Out of the over 8,000 BSF soldiers hit by malaria this year, eight soldiers have died.
Besides the use of mosquito repellent creams, powerful drugs, malaria detection kit and use of mosquito nets, the BSF has recently made it mandatory for all its personnel posted in the border areas to wear facemasks and gloves all the time to prevent mosquito bites.
Frequent deaths due to malaria spurred A Jayapal, former BSF commandant of the Tripura-Cachar-Mizoram (TCM) frontier, to introduce the unique 'face net' to combat 'Enemy No. 1' - malaria.
The 'face net' is made of special material and is stitched all along the edges of the soldier's helmet, or jungle hat, and reaches down to below shoulder level. At its lower end, the net is suspended by rows of iron washers to increase the weight. The washers, or small iron rings, ensure that the veil-like face net stays in place close to the body, instead of hanging free.
However, after the soldiers complained of visibility problem due to the 'face-net,' the BSF has planned to modify it and rectify the defects.
The Centre and the North Eastern States are working to fight malaria in a concerted manner. The Centre is assisting the states in purchasing material and equipments, besides giving financial assistance.