Malaria hits Assam, alert sounded

June 3rd, 2008 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, June 3 (IANS) At least 27 people have died of malaria in northeastern India’s Assam state during the past few weeks forcing health authorities to sound an alert in parts of the state, officials said Tuesday. “Most of the deaths have taken place in the southern Karbi Anglong district, but the situation is well under control,” said Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Assam and the rest of the northeast is a recognized ‘malaria zone’ with state and federal health authorities regularly keeping a close watch on the situation.

In 2007, a total of 141 people died of malaria in Assam and up to 60 of these deaths were reported by end May, the health minister said. Over 300 people died of the disease in 2005.

“We have distributed around 300,000 medicated mosquito nets to the poor to keep mosquitoes away and more such nets are being made available for free,” said Sarma.

The central government had provided 150,000 medicated mosquito nets and the rest were procured by the state government.

On Monday, Sarma ordered health authorities to sound an alert in parts of the central Kamrup district, one of the most malaria prone areas in the state.

“Special medical teams have been set up to monitor the situation round the clock,” he said.

Up to 500 deaths occur every year due to malaria in India’s northeast, comprising seven states with a population of 40 million.

Civilians aside, paramilitary troopers guarding the borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh, spread over thick jungles, have become victims of malaria.

At least 50 security personnel have died of the disease in the past couple of years.

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