Malaria-related morbidity and mortality rates plummet in state

SHILLONG, Nov 2: Malaria-related morbidity in Meghalaya has declined by 96 per cent whereas malaria-related mortality by 94 per cent, when kept 2015 data as the baseline.
This was informed by Deputy Director-cum-State Programme Officer of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), Meghalaya, Dr Bibha R Marak, during a stakeholder engagement meeting at Pasteur Research Institute, Lawmali, on Monday.
According to a statement, the meeting was organised to share and discuss progress of work relating to malaria research in state.
Dr. Marak, during the meeting, informed about how the Tura Model, which was initiated by then West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner, P Sampath Kumar, in 2007, played a significant role in the decline in malaria cases.
An analysis of the State Epidemiological Situation from 1997 to 2019 (Malaria in Meghalaya: Entomological Perspective, 2020) reveals that the state reported the highest deaths caused due to malaria in the year 2007 with 237 deaths. Out of this, 117 deaths alone were reported from West Garo Hills. “This sudden spike in the number of deaths demanded immediate intervention as it was noted that despite technical assistance from the Centre to contain malaria, the number of deaths remained significantly high, especially in the Garo Hills region. It was in this year that the then Deputy Commissioner of WGH district, Sampath Kumar, along with the team of health professionals, devised and implemented an innovative strategy that not only led to a drastic reduction in malaria mortality but set precedence for building state capability to tackle critical issues. This eventually came to be known as the ‘Tura Model’,” Dr. Marak said.
It was also informed that the Meghalaya State Health Policy 2021 derives its key principles from the Tura Model success story — understanding the problem, mapping the processes, empowering the healthcare systems at the grassroots level, addressing the issue of public health by focusing not only on the curative aspects but more so on the preventive as well as enabling aspects.
“One of the most important examples set by the Tura Model was the coming together of doctors from the public and private sectors as well as missionary organisations and NGOs, working with a sense of urgency on the part of district administration and, most importantly, building the capacity of the community through the ASHA workers at the field level to ensure that the last mile of the population is reached,” Dr. Marak said.
In his presentation on the epidemiology of malaria in low-transmission settings in Meghalaya, Dr. Rajiv Sarkar presented the findings based on cross-sectional surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019.
He said while there has been a significant decline in malaria incidence in all 21 study villages in West Jaintia Hills and West Khasi Hills in 2018 and 2019, majority of those individuals who were infected were asymptomatic, giving rise to potential undetected low-intensity transmission.
He cautioned that the potential for malaria resurgence remains and constant vigilance is required to counter the threat through periodic serological surveys and surveillance for insecticide resistance. (Contd on P-4)
Malaria-related morbidity and…
(Contd from P-3) Using molecular identification by employing DNA-based techniques, research fellows of the Center have also identified new Anopheles mosquitoes, An. xui and An. dissidens, the first to be reported in India, it was informed.
It was also informed in the meeting that there are hotspots still existent in South Garo Hills, West Jaintia Hills and select parts of West Khasi Hills.
It may be mentioned that the meeting was participated by key stakeholders from the state, zonal entomologists and consultants of NVBDCP, and the professors and students of IIPH-S.

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