Central team visits malaria-hit areas of Tripura

Agartala, June 23: A three-member central experts team on Monday visited malaria affected areas of Tripura where at least 45 people have died due to the disease and thousands have fallen ill, officials said.

"A team of malaria experts from the NVBDCP led by its special director Awadesh Kumar Monday visited malaria affected northern Tripura and gave necessary advice to the local doctors and officials on how to deal with the outbreak," a spokesman of the Tripura health department told IANS.

The other two experts in the central team are Sukhvir Singh, joint director and Satyajit Sen, regional director of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), under the union health and family welfare ministry.

The spokesman said following Chief Minister Manik Sarkar's directive 11 ministers have rushed to the malaria affected areas. They will stay there until the situation returns to normal. The ministers will supervise the disease control programme.

Over 23,000 people have fallen ill in the tribal-dominated mountainous areas of Dhalai, Gomti, Khowai, North Tripura and South Tripura districts.

At least 45 people, including 35 children, have died and more than 23,000 have fallen ill since the first week of June. Of the 23,000 ill people, malaria germ was found in the blood of 3,500 of them.

All the affected people have been admitted to various government hospitals in the five districts.

However, sources in the health department said the unofficial tally stands at more than 60 dead and 30,000 ill.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Badal Choudhury along with medical experts has visited the malaria-affected areas several times.

"Many medical teams are working in the disease-affected areas. SOS has been sent to Tripura officials in Guwahati, Kolkata and Delhi to urgently send adequate quantities of medicines," Choudhury said.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar in a series of meetings with doctors, officials and ministers reviewed the situation Saturday.

"Leave of all doctors, nurses and health workers has been cancelled. Health officials and field workers are visiting remote villages and making arrangements to bring the malaria-affected people to government hospitals," Choudhury said.

A helicopter is on standby to ferry doctors and patients in an emergency.

A health department official said that at least 50 health workers, including 26 ASHA (accredited social health activists), 13 ICDS (integrated child development services) and three multi-purpose workers, have been either suspended or will face action for negligence at work.

Experts have advised the government to use second-generation medicines instead of traditional ones to prevent malaria deaths.

All the eight northeastern states besides West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, are highly malaria prone and several hundreds of people die every year due to the disease.

According to a report of the NVBDCP, malaria claimed 1,018 lives in 2010 in India, followed by 754 in 2011, 519 in 2012 and 440 in 2013. This year, up to April, 35 people died of malaria with 11 deaths in Odisha, eight in West Bengal and seven in Meghalaya.


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