21 May 2012
Umesh Isalkar TNN
Pune: Rains are yet to arrive, and the state already has recorded over 13,000 cases of malaria and three deaths due to mosquito–borne infections. In the period between January and April, 13,067 people have been found positive for malarial infection. However, the good news is, this number point to more than 50% drop in mosquitoborne infections compared to the corresponding timeframe the last year when 28,400 cases were reported.
With 5,374 positive cases and one death, Mumbai continues to be on the top of the list, followed by Gadchiroli (1,789) and Thane (1,317) districts.
"Climactic conditions with temperature up to 30 degrees Celsius and a humidity level above 70% are favourable conditions for mosquito-breeding. Such conditions prevailed on most days in the last four months in Mumbai. That is one of the reasons for malaria cases during the pre-monsoon period. It is usually during monsoon season that cases of malarial infection rise," said V D Khanande, joint director (malaria) of the state health services.
During the same period last year, Mumbai had recorded 16,833 positive cases and 11 deaths.
The rural parts of Pune recorded 86 malaria cases while the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) recorded 13 and 36 cases respectively in the last four months.
Elaborating, Khanande said,"The perceptible drop in positive malaria cases as well as deaths can be attributed to multi-pronged strategy initiated at all levels – from village to district – of planning and administration." Micro-planning, regular review meetings of planned work and consistent monitoring of mosquito breeding sites helped reduce outbreaks, he added."Usually, water scarcity starts after March. This is the time when we have to strengthen our monitoring work. We started conducting meetings of additional district health officials to review their work once every month. Microplanning, regular review meetings of planned work and awareness about avoiding mosquito breeding sites have yielded results," Khanande said.
In 2010-11, 1,38,605 positive cases were recorded in the state, a figure higher than the 85,435 cases recorded the previous year. In 2007, 67,850 cases were registered and 67,333 cases were registered in 2008. To control the growing mosquito menace, the state health department had to seek technical support and expertise from the Union government.
As many as 545 people succumbed to malaria in the last three years. In 2011, there were 118 deaths as against 200 the previous year and 227 in 2009. Experts said it is impossible to control mosquito breeding and bring down malaria without the active participation of the public.
"Unplanned growth of cities, rapid industrialisation, labour concentration at project sites and movement of population across the border are reasons for high number of malaria cases in the last few years. On the positive side, there has been a considerable reduction in cases and deaths since last year," said state entomologist B R Mane.
The components of the national malaria control strategy include use of longlasting insecticides, bed nets, indoor residual sprays, early diagnosis and treatment of cases, management of the environment, forecasting, prevention and control of epidemics.
Meanwhile, health activists attached to various NGOs said the number of malaria, dengue and chikungunya cases is just the tip of the iceberg. A majority of the cases remain unreported.