Fumigation in the time of Ramzan
On a hot May afternoon in Nuh district’s Bibipur, several local health workers are carrying mosquito spray equipment, which will curtail the transmission of malaria. They began spraying the insecticide a week ago, but still have many areas left to cover. A few of them said they were unsure how many houses and schools they would be able to cover that day, as it is the beginning of the month of Ramzan and the residents return home early after the day’s work. “We will be met with closed doors because everyone will be resting,” one of the workers said. However, they were proven wrong. People in almost every house they arrived at agreed to get their walls sprayed.
Villages around Bibipur and Ujina, less than 500 metres away, bear nearly half of Haryana’s malaria burden every year. More than 1,500 cases of the vector-borne disease are reported every year. Health workers have, over the past few years, ensured active community engagement to reduce the burden of this disease by building awareness and improving the understanding of malaria. Workers have also been building valuable relationships with local religious figures, panchayat heads and residents, to prevent the disease. During a visit to the region for a story on the disease, its causes and its impact, I was witness to the trust and the bond that residents and health workers share.
The workers address almost everyone they meet during their tour by their names. “Dayanand ji and his team are here almost every other day, attending to patients who are suffering from malaria, and checking for breeding sites at houses,” said Zakir, a resident of Bibipur. He then goes on to ask the team of workers about the right mosquito repellent to use. On their visit, other residents there invited the workers to their homes and posed questions about the disease, all the while showering them with Ramzan delicacies. Some had queries about the use of the medicated mosquito nets given by the health department.
Roads in the region are strewn with puddles of stagnant water, where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Residents have taken it upon themselves to clean the roads in front of their houses. Mohammad Shahid, a resident of Bibipur, was cleaning the road outside his house on the afternoon. “What else can I do? It creates a smell and mosquitoes fill my house every evening. All of us here have to look after ourselves,” he said.