Sanjay Singh/SNS, NEW DELHI, April 29: As Assam reels under a virtual malaria epidemic, with 77 deaths already reported, the Centre has accused the state government of a lackadaisical approach and failure to utilise a consignment of mosquito nets it had dispatched in 2001.
A senior official in the national anti-malaria programme told The Statesman that 5.2 lakh mosquito nets dispatched to Assam in 2001 were not used. Another 4.86 lakh nets which were dispatched earlier this month by the NAMP ~ after the recent malaria outbreak in the state ~ too remain unused in Guwahati.
A Central team reached Guwahati recently and sealed all the godowns where the nets, supplied in 2001 and meant for distribution, were kept. No arrangements were made for their preservation resulting in wasteful expenditure of Rs 43 lakh, the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has said.
The CAG report has also pulled up other malaria sensitive states like UP, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa, Rajasthan, MP and Pondicherry, which too have ignored NAMP initiatives over the years. “The situation would not have been so bad in Assam had the state government acted in advance. They failed to use mosquito nets supplied by the Centre under the NAMP, while people continue to die of malaria,” said the NAMP official.
However, this does not absolve the NAMP of its responsibilities. It has been pulled up for its failure to get rid of stocks of conventional medicines like chloroquine which are proving woefully inadequate for treating malaria. Even President A P J Abdul Kalam has urged the medical fraternity to give up use of chloroquine, which has become resistant to the Falciparum parasite which causes cerebral malaria. This, he said, has led to an increase in the number of malaria deaths though the number of cases has come down over the years.