Increased Malaria Prevalence in Mangalore, India, Prompts Health Department To Scale Up Action Plan
The city of Mangalore, India, has reported an increase in malaria cases during the first two months of 2009, compared with the same period in previous years, prompting the Karnataka state Department of Health and Family Welfare to scale up its action plan to control malaria in the city, the Times of India reports (Times of India, 3/4). According to Madan Gopal, secretary of the regional DHFW, Mangalore accounts for 64% of malaria cases in India's Karnataka state. In addition, 94% of Mangalore's malaria cases occur in the core of the city, he said, adding that health officials have identified 11 regions of Mangalore as high-risk areas for malaria transmission (The Hindu Business Line, 3/4).
Gopal recommended implementing micro-planning initiatives in neighborhood committees to prevent the number of malaria cases from reaching 2006 levels, in which 15,644 people contracted malaria and 11 people died from the disease. Gopal also said health workers should undertake efforts to improve malaria education in communities in order to increase awareness of environmental risk factors, such as open wells and overhead tanks. According to Gopal, health officials plan to work with the education department to encourage students to disseminate messages about malaria. In addition, the health department will undertake a campaign calling for pharmacists to recommend malaria tests to clients seeking fever treatment, the Times of India reports. Ravi Kumar, chief medical officer for DHFW, said 12 teams are working to reduce malaria incidence in Mangalore and that the department could dispatch more teams as necessary. According to Gopal, health officials will hold weekly reviews to monitor the progress of the malaria action plan. Gopal said, "Malaria can be controlled absolutely, provided efforts put in now are sustained for a period of three years" (Times of India, 3/4).
According to The Hindu Business Line, Mangalore in 2008 accounted for 50% of the regional health department's budget for urban malaria control. Some factors contributing to the high malaria prevalence in the city include open wells, overhead tanks in buildings and construction sites. In addition, construction activities have led to an increase in the number of migrant workers, who often live at the construction sites. These sites typically lack basic facilities, which can contribute to an increase in malaria cases. In 2008, 50 building contractors received penalties for not undertaking action to control mosquito breeding areas, The Hindu Business Line reports (The Hindu Business Line, 3/4).