Every year, the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) observes June as 'Month Against Malaria' and undertakes several pre-monsoon precautionary activities. But this time, the main activity of fogging was indefinitely stopped as 36 fogging machines of the RMC Health Department remained out of order due to a shortage of petrol.
Also, a special grant of Rs 4 lakh sanctioned by State Health Department to hire 50 field workers for malaria-related activities was on the verge of lapse, as the RMC has not yet recruited any field workers. As a result malaria cases are on the rise in the city.
Deputy Health Officer of the RMC, Dr P P Rathod admitted that 30 small handy machines and six big fogging machines belonging to the Health Department had not been used. "These fogging machines emit smoke after petrol is mixed with the chemical pyrethrum. But in the last 15-20 days, we did not get any petrol due to some administrative problem with the petrol pump owner."
He added: "Apart from fogging, we put up hoardings at some 28 places in the city to spread awareness about malaria, conduct programmes in schools to make children aware about mosquito breeding and organise road shows to teach people about ways of curbing malaria."
Mayor Sandhyaben Vyas agreed that the work had been halted, but after it came to her notice, she immediately called a meeting and instructed all the concerned officials to begin the work. "Generally, fogging is the second step, as we start it only after identifying malaria cases. The first step is spreading awareness among the masses that we have done effectively."
Figures available with the Health Department show that 17 cases of malaria (Plasmodium fakciparum) and three cases of malaria — PV (Plasmodium viva) have surfaced in Rajkot city in the last few days.
Most cases have been reported from slum areas like Upla Kantha, which includes Bhagwatipara, Jungleshwar, Raiyadhar, Majothi Nagar, Manda Dungar and Bharat Nagar. Malaria mosquitoes generally breed in August and September. But this time with scattered rains in June, cases have already surfaced in various city hospitals.