AT 8 pm every day when people in Dogiguda—a village in Odisha’s Malkangiri district—are preparing to go to sleep, it’s time for Seema Haldar, an accredited social health activist (ASHA), to take a round of the village. She moves from one house to another hitting a gong with a stick making a loud metallic sound. The sound is a reminder for residents to put up their mosquito nets before going to bed.
Haldar has been doing this for the past several months. “I am happy my efforts are showing results. Earlier, there used to be around five malaria cases every month in the village. Now there is none as people are using the mosquito nets,” she says.
Amidst the gloom of the covid-19 pandemic, Malkangiri— counted among India’s worst malaria-affected districts—is on a trajectory to be malaria-free. The district has been witnessing a gradual reduction in cases over the last four years. But since July this year, the number of cases began to drastically go down— there was a 63.18 per cent decline between July and October, as compared to the same period in the previous year. According to the district administration, there will be “zero” malaria cases in the district by December.
“The malaria control achievement has happened due to proper planning at the top and effective implementation at the ground levels with the convergence of several departments,” says Sandhyarani Hota, Malkangiri district’s chief medical officer.
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