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Times of India
30 July 2010
By Sharad Vyas, Sanjeev Shivadekar & Pratibha Masand

BMC turns to private medicos, treated nets
Struggling with the growing malaria menace, the government is looking to several quarters for help, prime among them being private practitioners in the seven worst–hit wards. The BMC will provide free medicines to doctors with clinics in worst–hit areas like Dadar, Parel, Byculla, Kings Circle, Ghatkopar, Kurla and Andheri. They will have to display boards outside their clinics stating the availability of the free medicines.

“With seven civic wards witnessing nearly two–thirds of malaria cases, we decided to take help from private doctors to deal with the situation in these wards,” public health minister Suresh Shetty said on Thursday. The decision was taken in a meeting between Shetty, additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar, and a central team. Recently the minister informed the legislature that Mumbai, which has 12.5% of the state’s population, had 47% of its malaria cases.

The team of health experts from National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), under the Union health and family welfare ministry, suggested artemisinin–based combination therapy be used in response to the spreading drug–resistant malarial strains. The team conducted a joint–survey of the seven wards with civic officials. The BMC has tied up with the institute, which will provide long–term and short–term solutions to check malaria in the next 15 days.

In the short term, the civic body will open 24 centres across the city to provide citizens insecticide–treated mosquito nets at subsidised rates. Those who can’t afford the nets will be allowed to bring normal nets to the centres and the BMC will return them after treatment. “Popular in African countries as an effective tool for curbing malaria, the nets are likely to offer 70% protection,” said Mhaiskar. The ITNs–which the corporation will impregnate with insecticides (permethrin or deltamethrin) is a globally proven cost–effective method of malaria prevention, said officials. The nets would be provided initially at Rs 200 and could be further subsidised later.

The government has also requested the ESIS, Railway and Bombay Port Trust hospitals to open OPD and separate wards to deal with the situation.

Meanwhile, with three corporators testing positive for malaria, corporators demanded in the civic house that the BMC declare the disease an epidemic. The BMC blamed the migrant workers and heavy rains for the spread. However, its own data shows only 3% of positive cases are from under–construction sites. Of the 12,000 odd positive cases in July, 90% are from slum pockets, 4% from middle income group, 3% are construction workers, 1% from higher income group and 2% others. There has been an average of 1004.857 mm of rainfall in Mumbai in July till now. “With heavy rains, our fumigation teams found more breeding sites in old mills and railway tracks,”added Mhaiskar.

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