AGARTALA, July 13 (IANS): Malaria toll continues to rise in Tripura with at least 67 people having died from the disease and many stricken ill within a month, a minister said here Sunday.
"At least 67 people, including 55 children, have died and over 171,200 have fallen ill during the past one month," Tripura Health and Family Welfare Minister Badal Choudhury told reporters.
He said: "Of the fever-affected people, malaria infection was found in the blood of over 29,600 people. Our efforts are on to check the disease."
The minister said of the 67 dead, 35 died in government hospitals and the remaining in their homes.
Choudhury said Border Security Force and Tripura State Rifles personnel have fanned out in remote and tribal-inhabited operational areas to help sick people.
A helicopter has been pressed into service to ferry doctors and patients in case of emergency.
"We have brought a large number of patients to hospitals from remote areas and sent them home after treatment," the minister said, adding food and medicines are being given to people recuperating in hospitals.
On an average, over 124 special health camps are being held daily in the malaria-hit hilly areas for people who have not been admitted to hospitals.
Experts from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), an independent international medical humanitarian organisation, are visiting the disease-affected areas.
"The MSF has extended help by providing medicines and expertise to deal with malaria outbreak in Tripura," Choudhury said.
The outbreak of malaria and fever was reported from the tribal-dominated hilly areas of 11 sub-divisions under five districts -- Dhalai, Gomti, Khowai, North Tripura and South Tripura.
The minister has sent an urgent letter to union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan, calling for medicines and experts to deal with the situation.
"Though there is no shortage of medicines, we need the same for critical patients suffering from malaria in Tripura," Choudhury said.
He added that the state government has collected anti-malaria medicines from Guwahati, Kolkata and Delhi.
A team of experts from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), led by special director Awadesh Kumar recently visited malaria-affected areas in the state.
All the northeastern states besides West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka are highly malaria-prone.
Over a 100 people die every year from the disease in the seven northeastern states, excluding Sikkim.
According to NVBDCP, malaria claimed 1,018 lives in 2010 in India, 754 in 2011, 519 in 2012 and 440 in 2013.