Defence experts researching ways to check malaria in northeast


Agartala : Defence experts and union health ministry officials are conducting separate studies on the spread of malaria in the northeast, officials said here Tuesday.

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The northeast is a known malaria prone region, with the disease claiming an estimated 500 lives annually.

“Experts from the Defence Research Laboratory (DRL) at Tezpur in Assam and specialists from the union health and family welfare ministry have already started their survey in Tripura and subsequently they would go to other northeastern states,” said R.K. Dhar, Tripura’s preventive medicine department director.

He said: “During their study, both the teams will collect blood samples, talk to local doctors and patients, forest experts and other concerned people.

“The study reports and recommendations of both the experts team would help the authorities take future action to curb malaria.”

Bimal Baidya, a malaria expert, said that plasmodium falciparum (PF) malaria is the predominant parasite responsible for increased morbidity and mortality in the northeastern region.

Health officials said that anti-malarial measures in the region have been hit hard due to an acute shortage of paramedics and other health workers.

Malaria poses a bigger threat than insurgents and smugglers to the Border Security Force (BSF) troopers and other security forces posted in hostile terrains in the region.

“Our jawans are now battling malaria along with snakebites. The two are turning out to be our biggest enemies in the border areas,” said J.A. Khan, BSF’s Tripura frontier inspector general.

Eight BSF personnel died of malaria last year, while nine have died so far this year. No one was killed by insurgents last year, while two have been killed so far this year.

“It is mandatory for all those posted in the border to carry mosquito repellent creams, besides wearing face masks and gloves all the time,” said Harminder Pal, a BSF commander.

According to health department records, 20 people died of the disease in 2005. The number rose to 41 in 2006 and 44 last year, while 22 people have died so far this year in Tripura.

The central government has sanctioned 115,000 medicated nets for Tripura and six fogging machines especially for Agartala to prevent people from being bitten by mosquitoes.