Monday, June 24, 2024

Malaria outbreak ravages tribal villages in Ananthagiri

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A surge in malaria cases has gripped the remote tribal hamlets of Buruga and China Konela in Ananthagiri mandal, leaving residents struggling with inadequate healthcare and a lack of basic amenities. Health officials confirmed a staggering 850 malaria cases in the ASR district since January 1st, 2024, with these villages particularly affected. The 28 families residing there, totaling roughly 150 people, have faced this plight for the past two years.
The villagers lament a critical shortage of mosquito nets, clean drinking water, and proper indoor insecticide spraying. Sporadic spraying efforts, often lacking coordination with the community, have left many areas untreated, fueling the malaria outbreak. The nearest medical facility, the Primary Health Center in Bhimavaram, lies a daunting 50 km away.  Seeking treatment often involves travelling 20-35 km to hospitals in the neighbouring Vizianagaram district.
Residents with malaria are carried in makeshift stretchers (“dolis”) to distant hospitals due to the lack of local healthcare infrastructure.  This delay in receiving treatment can worsen their condition.  Several villagers, including children, required hospitalization at Vizianagaram General Hospital and even King George Hospital (KGH) in Visakhapatnam for severe cases and complications in 2023.  These medical expenses force many to borrow money, pushing families into debt.
“We are compelled to borrow money from others to cover medical expenses, pushing us into debt. Many families migrate to Kolluru in December to work as bricklayers to repay these debts. The lack of electricity and clean water further aggravates our living conditions. Despite a borewell being dug under the Jal Jeevan Mission, issues with the motor have forced villagers to consume water unsuitable for drinking,” the tribals lamented.
“There is no power supply in Buruga and China Konela, and there are no asphalt roads either,” said K. Govinda Rao, a leader of the Girijan Sangham. “Although ANMs and Health Assistants are visiting these villages, mosquito control measures are ineffective, making residents highly vulnerable to malaria.”
Tribal leaders and residents have appealed to the government to recognize malaria as a serious health issue and to take immediate action. They have called for the establishment of a medical camp staffed with specialized officers, the distribution of monthly rations, and the provision of essential services such as fresh water, electricity, and proper road facilities. Tribal association leaders S Kondala Rao and CPM district executive member K Govinda Rao demanded transparency and accountability in malaria case reporting and urged the district administration to address the crisis with urgency. The villagers demanded that the District Collector visit their village to witness their hardships firsthand and take necessary actions.
This situation underscores the critical need for improved healthcare infrastructure and effective mosquito control measures in these remote areas.  The tribal community urges the government to take immediate action to address this public health crisis.

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