BBMP: Bengaluru is malaria-free | Data says otherwise

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Despite claims by the BBMP that Bengaluru is malaria-free, figures from the state’s Health and Family Welfare Department show that the city is still in the grip of the disease.

According to statistics disclosed to DH by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), the city’s urban wards showed three cases of malaria in 2017 and zero in 2018. 

However, the same report also showed the presence of 433 cases within BBMP wards in 2018, most of them patients admitted in private
hospitals.

Officials at the department expressed frustration at what they described as the BBMP’s lax attitude towards anti-malarial efforts.

“We have trained their ASHA workers, doctors, medical personnel and other staff to tackle malaria, but the Palike is not doing its duty properly,” said Dr Mahmood Shariff, research officer at NVBDCP. According to Shariff, the Palike was under-reporting malaria cases in the city.

The Palike’s anti-malarial coordinator with NVBDCP, Dr Naveen Kumar, maintained that the civic body was doing all it could to combat the disease, but said dengue and chikungunya were their primary focus.

He also reiterated the Palike’s stance that Bengaluru itself has no incidences of malaria, saying many patients in city hospitals are possibly rural residents who contracted the disease elsewhere. He also described malaria as a ‘slum problem’ originating from stagnating water and sewage.

“The Palike is carrying out awareness programmes in these areas,” he said and complained that “the department of health is placing the burden on us”. 

Asked what was being done about the large sewage canals and open drains in the city which are mosquito breeding grounds, he said that was within the purview of the Palike’s stormwater drain cell.

The chief engineer at the stormwater drain cell could not be reached for comments.

According to the World Health Organisation, while India has made strides in reducing the number of malarial cases by nearly 3 million during 2016 and 2017, the country still had over 4% of all malarial cases worldwide.

The health department reported that Karnataka had 5,290 cases — a 28% reduction compared to 2017. The number of deaths in 2018 stood at 41 across India.

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