WHO pat on Odisha ‘sting operation’

Once country’s worst malaria prone zone, Odisha has now been hailed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for successfully taking on the killer stings.

Published: 20th March 2018 03:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2018 04:45 AM   |  A+A-

Representational Image | AP

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Once country’s worst malaria prone zone, Odisha has now been hailed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for successfully taking on the killer stings. Strong implementation of the distribution of long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) scheme and quick diagnostic facilities followed by treatment has led to a sharp drop not only in malaria burden but also fatalities the vector-borne disease brings with itself.

In a special feature, the WHO has cited the case of Odisha where elimination strategy has made inroads into malaria prone districts under the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme (NVBDCP).
The State which accounts for more than 40 per cent malaria burden of the entire country, the WHO report says, “dramatically scaled up efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria in the recent years with impressive results seen in a short span of time.”

The work followed the recommendations of the WHO Global Technical Strategy for malaria emphasising early case detection, prompt treatment and widespread use of mosquito-control measures.

Statistics tell the story. Latest information furnished before the Lok Sabha reveals that malaria cases in Odisha have reported a sharp drop. From 4,44,843 in 2016, it fell to 3,52,140 last year. This year, by end of February, the cases reported stood at 5,100. This is when the malaria cases declined from 10,90,724 in 2016 to 8,40,838 in 2017 across the country.

In this period, the malaria deaths have also fallen. In 2015, the total malaria deaths recorded in Odisha was 80 which dropped to 25 in 2017, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare statistics said.
The WHO, in its feature, also attributes the work carried out by ASHA workers to the success. With funding support from Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, ASHA workers “helped distribute about 11 million bednets – enough to protect all the residents in those areas of Odisha that are at highest risk of malaria, including residential hostels for schools,” the report stated. Across India, about 40 million bed-nets are likely to have been disbursed.Besides, the health workers, ably supported by various other groups, went to the nook and corner of the tribal regions to educate and sensitise the local populace about how to protect themselves against malaria.

While appreciating the implementation, the WHO also anaylsed the forested and hilly terrains mostly inhabited by tribals, behavioural practices of the population as well as issues of drug resistance.
The international body also acknowledges that keeping track of the malaria burden has proved difficult as private doctors do not report their cases to the government database.

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