Fani throws a spanner in Odisha’s Malaria ‘DAMaN’ spree!

People in many villages of Puri and Khurdha have no insecticide-treated mosquito nets at their homes, as their entire houses got damaged by the cyclone & the malaria screening programme has taken a hit in Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur

Bhubaneswar: The neat turnaround in malaria ‘DAMaN’ in Odisha could see a spanner thrown by the Cyclone Fani. As studies suggest a link between rise in malaria positives post cyclone, the record of sorts achieved by the State in 2018 seems at stake now.

For the first time in State’s history, Odisha had posted an eye-popping 81.61 per cent fall in malaria positive cases in 2018. The total positives in 2018 were 66,301 compared to a whopping 3.48 lakhs in 2017. However, Odisha is still second in malaria positive cases nationally.

As per reports pouring in, people in many villages of Puri and Khurdha have no insecticide-treated mosquito nets at their houses, as their entire houses got damaged by the cyclone. Moreover, the malaria screening under the malaria control programme has taken a hit in Fani-affected  districts, especially Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur. ASHA, aanganwadi workers and panchayati raj members were mobilised for relief and rehab works.

Though the said districts have a very a low API (Annual Parasite Incidence) in the State, there is a lingering fear in the malaria control unit here over a possible eruption of cases as a fallout of Fani, where people were forced to dwell in open and in environment that is conducive for harbouring high mosquito density.

It needs mentioning that post the launch of DAMaN (Durgama Anchala re Malaria Nirakaran) initiative in 2016 by Odisha government, the cases of Malaria in Odisha have shown a dip. And last year the dip in positive cases was the steepest ever in State’s history. Even, WHO has patted the State over its achievement in its World Malaria report released recently. Reports also suggest that the mobilisation of health workers from high API districts for rehab and relief work in Fani affected districts has impacted the swift implementation of DAMaN there. The programme is currently implemented in 8000 villages of all 79 blocks of the eight high malaria endemic southern districts. These districts are Koraput, Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Rayagada, Nabarangapur, Nuapada, Kandhamal and Gajapati

As per the data available with NVBDCP (National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme), Odisha had recorded 66,301 malaria positive cases in 2018. The cases in 2017 were over 3.47lakh. The total deaths due to Malaria in Odisha in 2018 were mere 4. It is also for the first time the State has recorded single digit malaria mortality in 2018.

However, the cases of dreaded malaria (plasmodium falciparum) still accounted for over 81 per cent of total malaria cases in the State. Falciparum malaria is commonly known as brain malaria. The national average of falciparum cases is below 50 per cent (49.9). The nagging fact with the falciparum malaria is it has a high mortality rate, if no early diagnosis was done. This is what is concerning the NVBDCP officials here as monsoon rains will follow next month.