RAIPUR: Bastar, the Red zone in south Chhattisgarh, is facing a different battle. The region which has so far not received the deserving attention, to fight the malaria menace, has the Annual Parasite Incidence (API) (malaria) of over 10—rated among the highest in the country.
API-10 is equivalent to 10 confirmed cases per thousand population and Bastar is among the very few geographical locations endemic to malaria parasites—Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum.
Going by the previous 3 years data, the prevalence of malaria cases recorded were highest during the months of January, July and November. So based on it, a three-phase ‘Malaria Free Bastar’ campaign would be carried out during these months so as to eliminate malarial parasites in its entirety.
The state has now meticulously embarked upon a plan to eliminate Malaria from Bastar on mission mode through door-to-door ‘Mass Active Screening and Treatment’ process, which will continue till February 14 under the ‘Malaria-Free Bastar’ campaign.
Close to 1720 health survey team are examining the blood of over 14 lakh people through Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT). After the diagnosis, the patients are given complete treatment with essential medicines free of cost and a follow-up in each case. Those traced in serious conditions are shifted to health centres and hospitals. The health awareness drive and prevention against malaria are being carried out in local dialects.
“Malaria remains a serious public health concern in Bastar for years. Besides the Maoist threat, the inhospitable terrain and lack of attention to health issues were hindrances to effectively counter the Malaria in the region. Now we have embarked upon an extensive campaign coupled with local area specific strategy to combat malaria in Bastar with defined objectives, scope and outcomes”, affirmed the state health minister T S Singhdeo.
Besides the homes, the screening and treatment process covering every tribal hamlet, ashrams, schools, residential Pota cabins, jails and even camps of para-military forces.
To boost the campaign, the chief minister Bhupesh Baghel personally visited Dantewada and himself underwent malaria diagnosis test at the spot.
“The RDT and complete treatment being ensured by the team of the health department by visiting each and everyone in the identified regions. The objective is to eliminate re-establishment of local transmission and resurgence making Bastar malaria-free status”, said Priyanka Shukla (IAS), Mission Director, National Health Mission.
Chhattisgarh, after coming into existence in November 2000, had a large segment of population living at risk of malaria with API at 16.80, which was substantially reduced to 1.97 in 2019 owing to the evidence-based modern intervention tools and effective care.
But the woeful story for Bastar remains unchanged with barely 16 development blocks of the seven districts accounting for 65 per cent of the state’s malaria cases even today.
The state government is optimistic that with the absolute attention on malaria disease the issue of anaemia and malnourishment too would be effectively taken are care of.