Despite the civic body’s drive against malaria, an estimated 3.8 lakh Mumbaiites contracted the disease last year, according to a survey released on Tuesday by Praja Foundation, an NGO working on civic issues.
According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) data, 39,828 persons suffered from malaria last year, a reduction of 68% from 2010. However, this figure was a tally of malaria cases in public health facilities. According to Praja Foundation, 75% of the population choose private health care providers.
The report, The State of Health of Mumbai, includes analysis of civic data and an independent survey of more than 15,000 households in the city. “More than 75% of the population takes treatment from private health care providers. Civic authorities do not record in detail the incidence of diseases among these patients,” said Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee, Praja Foundation.
“Although the cases of malaria and other diseases seem to have come down since 2010 and the BMC has made commendable efforts to control malaria, the fact is the disease is actually more widespread than what the official tally shows,” Mehta said.
The survey stated that cases reported by the BMC in 2011-12 were much less than in 2010-11, which was a particularly bad year with a sharp increase in cases of several diseases. However, a four year-analysis showed a steep rise in cases of dengue, malaria and cholera (See Box).
The survey was conducted during March and April 2012, by Hansa research, which picked 15,191 households across 24 civic wards, through random sampling. The figures collected were then projected for Mumbai’s one-crore plus population.
“If the government uses the data, they will be able to spend their funds in a better way,” said Dr Mangesh Pednekar, from Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health. The NGO is also planning to share the findings with the state government and the BMC.
Civic officials said it might not be correct to estimate that 75% of the population goes to private health care providers. “60% of Mumbai’s population resides in slums and eventually come to government or municipal hospitals. We have reported a decline based on people coming to civic hospitals,” said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional commissioner, BMC."For the last two years, we have started collecting data from private health care facilities for sensitive diseases such as H1N1 swine flu, malaria and tuberculosis."