At a time when the state health department is having a tough time to control vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue, a community-based initiative has helped in combating the diseases in Bhopal-gas tragedy affected ten localities in old city, that house around 20,000 people.
The initiative is spurred by Sambhavana Trust Clinic — a non-government venture that has been working for medical rehabilitation of gas victims for almost two decades now.
A team of seven trained health workers along with about 30 community volunteers (also trained) have been taking up awareness, prevention, surveillance and monitoring work in these areas.
The result is that during the course of last five years the incidence of malaria has gone down in these localities. In 2010, as many as 95 out of 261 persons whose samples were tested had been diagnosed malaria positive (24.14%). Comparatively, this year till now, only 6 out of 93 have tested positive (6.45%).
Also this year, the health teams are tracking dengue because of the spur in the disease reported elsewhere in city. Fortunately, not a single case has been detected in any of these localities. "This is probably because of preventive work that we have been undertaking since last several years," health worker Masarrat Jahan says.
She says that every year, before the onset of vector-borne diseases season preventive work is taken up. Water-filled containers and pits are identified and either gambusia fish is introduced or kerosene or diesel is sprinkled to kill the mosquito larvae.
People are instructed to report any fever and blood sample slides of the patients are made by the workers/volunteers and tested immediately at the Sambhavana clinic and proper treatment initiated. The help of malaria centres of the state health department is taken for testing kits and medicines, Jahan said.
Monica Vishwakarma, a volunteer from Garib Nagar who is a class 12 student, says that it is very satisfying to be involved in the work, mainly because it helps in keeping the community healthy.
Yusuf Saeed, 29 of Gareeb Nagar said that he had been watching Sambhavna Trust team work since his childhood and thus decided to join the work as volunteer. "Unless we help ourselves, no one can help us," he says.
Mohammad Akhtar, a resident of Nawab Colony says that the community feels confident because of the accessibility to the health workers and volunteers. "Whenever there is any health issue, we bring it to their notice and get the required help," he said.