The winged menace that has been striking down Mumbaiites left, right and centre, has not spared the city’s policemen. More than 2,000 of the city’s 45,000-strong force have been laid low with malaria since June; and the count is rising.
Police hospital sources told HT on Monday that between the first week of June up to August 16, more than 2,000 policemen were hospitalised with malaria. This figure, however, only records patients in the two police hospitals – Naigaon and Nagpada – and 12 dispensaries across the city. These dispensaries are located close to police quarters.
While confirming the figure, police surgeon S M Patil said the actual number could be much higher considering that many more may have been treated at private hospitals that have tie-ups with the Mumbai police under the Kutumb Arogya Pariyojna. At present 20 major private hospitals in the city provide health care to policemen as per the scheme. “We have asked our policemen to get themselves admitted to any hospital whenever they are detected with malaria or any other viral infection,” Patil said.
He said, this year, there has been a 40 per cent rise in malaria cases among policemen, compared to the previous year. At present, the 114-bed Nagpada hospital is teeming with patients, 85 of those occupied by malaria cases alone. Another 10-15 cases relate to other viral fevers.
Apart from this, 30 of the 40 beds at the Naigaon police hospital are occupied by malaria cases.
Things are no different in the dispensaries located at Andheri and Kandivli, which are full of malaria cases. “Though the situation is not alarming, it is nevertheless a matter of concern,” Patil said, adding that so far no fatality (from malaria) has been reported from anywhere. “But, we are extremely careful and not taking any chances,” he said.
The Nagpada police Hospital, which is the nodal agency for supply of drugs to police hospitals and dispensaries in the city, has dispatched sufficient quantities of malaria and swine flu drugs. “We have already administered over 3,000 Artesunate injections (for falciparum malaria) and supplied adequate quantities of Tamiflu tablets to all our hospitals so that there is no scrambling at the eleventh hour,” said A R Chavan, medical officer at the Nagpada police hospital.
With a series of festivities round the corner, if the spread of malaria among policemen is not arrested immediately, it could affect security arrangements, observers said.