With only 4 cases so far, Punjab aims to be malaria-free by year-end
In a drastic decline in malaria infections, Punjab has reported only four cases so far this year. With this, the state health department is hopeful of becoming malaria-free by the end of this year.
Last year, the state had logged 109 cases, a major drop from the 1,040 cases witnessed in 2019.
The data suggests that the state health authorities are close to achieving the target of eliminating indigenous malaria cases in Punjab, despite most of its staff being deployed on Covid-19 duties.
In accordance with the national framework for malaria elimination in India, which was launched on February 11, 2016, Punjab was shortlisted in category 1 among 15 states with a vision of having zero indigenous malaria cases by 2021. Also, Punjab health and family welfare department had launched a malaria elimination campaign 2017-2021.
Dr Gagandeep Singh Grover, state nodal officer for National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (NVBDCP) Punjab, said that the state reported only four cases of malaria in Fatehgarh Sahib district this year, out of which one was imported and three were induced cases.
Dr Grover said the main reasons behind the decline in malaria cases include regular focal spray in affected areas, distribution of long-lasting insecticides, bed nets, release of Gambushia fishes in ponds. “We continued the statewide surveillance even during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
However, experts said that the favourable season for mosquito breeding starts from June to October, and only after can we determine the exact number of districts to have achieved malaria elimination by the end of 2021.
Malaria is a potentially life-threatening parasitic disease caused by female anopheles mosquitoes. Mainly two parasites are common in Punjab — P vivax and P falciparam. Malaria infection has typical symptoms of fever, sweating and chills. World Malaria Day is observed on April 25 every year.
Barnala civil surgeon Dr Harinderjeet Singh said that every fever case has to be screened for malaria. He added that people should be aware about source reduction activities.