Malaria control cannot succeed without community involvement

Dr Pradeep K Srivastava
Kulsum Mustafa, CNS Correspondent
Every minute a child dies from malaria. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of world's population is at risk of malaria. "Mosquito borne diseases are a major health problem in India. Globally every year 3.4 billion people are at risk. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of malaria prevent deaths," said Dr Pradeep K Srivastava, a well known 'scientoonist'.  He advised that adequate preventive dose of malaria are a must when one is visiting a mosquito-prone place. Urging medical alertness and timely blood tests if fever persists beyond a day, Dr Srivastava said that timely detection of malaria and proper medication can help prevent death.

Uttar Pradesh  District malaria officer Mr Shukla spoke about knowledge, awareness and practices towards eradication of malaria.  He said that no government programme can be successful unless the community becames a part of it. Advocating behavioural changes in the mindset of the common man Shukla said that people must realize that a clean environment is for their own good. "Mosquitoes breed in dirty, stagnant water. If we want to remain healthy, we must ensure that not just our houses but also our neighborhood is clean and dry," said Shukla , adding that “prevention is certainly better then cure in the case of malaria.”

Use of mosquito coil, mat, repellent, net, neem leaves burning are personal protective methods to prevent malaria and other mosquito borne diseases. Dr Rashmi Rai, spoke at length about the insecticidal qualities of  neem and its use in prevention of malaria. She said that it is sad that because the products from neem are so low cost people doubt its effectiveness.

 Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, is going all out to engage school children in a bid to arrest the spread of malaria in the country. The department has initiated an All India Hindi essay writing competition for the students of classes 8th to 10th   on the topic “Malaria-a challenge and ways to control. The last date for entering the competition, the form for which can be downloaded from the department’s website  is 31st October 2014.

Vigyan Prasar is also organizing a children’s Science Film festival from 4-8th February 2015, at Lucknow. Festival will have many films on subjects like malaria and help generate an awareness about the disease. Addressing  an orientation programe on  malaria awareness for journalists  and teachers in the state capital recently, Mr Nimesh Kapoor, scientist and media publicity in charge of Vigyan Prasar, said while malaria is a killer serious disease yet it is totally controllable if certain precautions are taken by individuals and the community.  He said that attempts are  being made through teachers and media reach out to children and the masses to become part of the community crusade against malaria.

 “We are going all out to declare a war on the mosquitoes and this is being done by a community –based health education programme for bio-environmental control of malaria through children,” said Kapoor, adding that mosquitoes borne diseases are major public health problem and anti- mosquito drive is vital not for just a healthy and but also for an economically viable society.

Kulsum Mustafa, Citizen News Service - CNS26 September 2014