Agartala, May 24: Tripura has succeeded in significantly reducing the number of malaria cases and fatalities due to active surveillance, diagnosis, treatment, and awareness programmes, State Programme Officer for Malaria, Dr. Bansari Das, said on Monday.
At present, around 150 medical teams are working tirelessly covering all the malaria-prone zones, amid the challenges thrown by the second wave of COVID-19, to combat the disease caused by a plasmodium parasite transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes, the official said. "Over the past three years, the malaria death toll has come down significantly due to extensive mass awareness drives, proper screening, real-time diagnosis, and complete treatment arranged by the government," Dr. Das said.
A special initiative has been taken for mass screening in 110 endemic sub-centres to break the transmission cycle and reduce the human reservoir, the State Programme Officer for Malaria said. Medical teams are conducting random sample testing even in remotest parts of the state while raising awareness through various programmes, Dr. Das said. An information, education and communication (IEC) van, prepared with multi-colour flexes and a sound system, has been moving across the state for generating awareness. If people test positive for the infection, the patients are hospitalised or their treatment is followed up by ASHA/other health workers to ensure complete treatment.
In 2018, 12 persons died of malaria, and 12,437 cases were reported in the northeastern state while the number of deaths had come down to one, and cases of the vector-borne disease had plummeted to 3,673 in 2019. Two persons out of 3,671 persons who had contracted the disease died last year. "Significantly, Tripura registered only 207 malaria cases so far in the current year with no report of even a single death," the official said. According to statistics, the state had reported 96 deaths due to malaria in 2014, which came down to two in 2020, Dr. Das said.
"As the Tripura government has now set a target of bringing down the number of malaria deaths to zero, preparedness has been strengthened even amid the COVID-induced challenges," Dr. Das said. The major malaria-prone zones of Tripura are Longtarai Valley, Ambassa, Gandacherra, Karbook, Amarpur, Sabroom, Teliamura, and Dasda sub-divisions. "The tribals, living in remote and rural areas used to visit 'Ojhas' (witch doctors) once they contracted malaria. Though we are trying to fight superstition, it still exists among people in some remote rural pockets of the state," she said.
But the extensive mass awareness campaign initiated by the Tripura chapter of the National Health Mission has succeeded to bring about a positive change in the minds of people to a great extent, she said. "We are, however, facing a major challenge so that the cycle doesn't repeat. We are keeping a close vigil on the ground situation," the doctor added.