Karnataka health officials have been asked to travel to districts with high malaria cases to create awareness and take steps to make the state malaria-free by 2025, five years before the Union government’s target.
“Creating awareness among people is key to fighting malaria and other vector-borne diseases,” Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar told reporters.
He was speaking at a workshop organised on Saturday, 16 July, by the Karnataka health department, Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA), and Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) on the subject Accelerating Towards a Malaria-Free Karnataka by 2025.
Speaking on the vulnerability of districts to an increase in malaria and dengue cases during monsoon, he said the preparedness of the department and cooperation from the people had become important.
There has been very heavy rain in 13 districts of Karnataka recently.
“Due to the rain, stagnant water accumulates in open buckets, unused tyres, empty coconut shells, etc, which become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which act as vectors to transmit diseases,” the minister explained.
Karnataka controls diseases
Sudhakar praised Karnatka’s efforts in reducing the number of malaria cases.
As per the data available with the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services, the state reported 7,381 cases of malaria in 2017 and 5,289 in 2018.
The numbers came down to 3,499 in 2019, 1,701 in 2020, and only 913 in 2021.
It may be noted that the Union Health Ministry has awarded the state a certificate of appreciation recognising its performance towards eradicating malaria.
“A total of 1,86,532 malaria cases were detected across the country in 2020. Karnataka accounted for only 1,701 cases, which is just 0.9 percent of the cases in the country. I congratulate all the health officials and staff for keeping malaria cases under control in Karnataka,” said Sudhakar at the workshop.
Though the state recorded only 100 malaria cases over the past six months, Sudhakar urged officials to be wary and watchful.
He said the monsoon can be a challenging period, and the number of malaria cases might increase.
“We are seeing an uptick in the number of malaria cases in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. Further, we are witnessing an increase in case numbers in areas that have proximity to forests,” said the minister.
Treatment alone is not enough. Precautionary measures need to be taken to ensure that the disease does not make a comeback, he added.
Sudhakar also congratulated Avani Hegde, a Class 9 student from Bengaluru who was among the winners of the poster-making competition organised by the National Centre for Vector-borne Disease Control.