The innovative ‘Tura Model’ of saving lives of hundreds of poor people in the interior villages of Meghalaya affected by Malaria has brought drastic reduction in the mortality rate.
Deputy Director cum State Programme Officer of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), Dr Bibha R. Marak informed that malaria morbidity in the State has declined by 96 per cent and malaria mortality by 94 per cent, keeping 2015 data as the baseline.
This data was shared by Dr Marak at a stakeholder engagement hosted by the Centre for the Study of Complex Malaria in India (CSCMİ), IIPH-Shillong (IIPH-S) held at Pasteur Research Institute, Lawmali here yesterday.
It may be mentioned that an analysis of the State Epidemiological Situation from 1997 to 2019 reveals that the State reported the highest deaths caused due to malaria in the year 2007 with 237 deaths. Out of this, 117 deaths alone were reported from West Garo Hills District.
This sudden spike in the number of deaths demanded immediate intervention as it was noted that despite technical assistance from the Centre to contain malaria, the number of deaths remained significantly high, especially in the Garo Hills region.
It was in this year that Principal Health Secretary, Sampath Kumar (who was then Deputy Commissioner of West Garo Hills district) along with the team of health professionals devised and implemented an innovative strategy that not only led to a drastic reduction in malaria mortality but set precedence for building state capability to tackle critical issues. This eventually came to be known as the ‘Tura Model’.
“In fact the Meghalaya State Health Policy 2021 derives its key principles from the Tura Model success story namely- Understanding the problem, Mapping the processes, empowering the health care systems at the grassroots level, addressing the issue of Public Health by focusing not only on the Curative aspects but more so, on the Preventive as well as Enabling aspects,” a statement here said.
“One of the most important examples set by the Tura Model was the coming together of doctors from the public & private sector as well as missionary organizations and NGOs, working with a sense of urgency on the part of district administration and most importantly, building the capacity of the community through the ASHA workers at the field level to ensure that the last mile of the population is reached,” it added.
Dr Marak that there are hotspots still existent in South Garo Hills, West Jaiñtia Hills and some parts of West Khasi Hills. “There are threats which may lead to resurgence of malaria if we are not alert, which include risk factors like socio-economic conditions, inaccessibility, human mobility, superstitions,” she added.
She said that due to low transmission as malaria cases have decreased, detection by simple methods may not be sensitive anymore and this may result in underestimation of the true prevalence of malaria infection.
Therefore she proposed that as a new strategy, along with early treatment and integrated vector management, new interventions like capacity building and intersectoral convergence between the public and private sectors should go hand in hand along with research work and studies.
At the meeting, the Epidemiology of malaria in low-transmission settings in Meghalaya was presented by Dr Rajiv Sarkar. He spoke on the findings based on cross-sectional surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019. While there has been a significant decline in malaria incidence in all 21 study villages in West Jaiñtia Hills and West Khasi Hills in the period 2018 and 2019, majority of those individuals who were infected were asymptomatic, giving rise to potential undetected low-intensity transmission. He cautioned that the potential for malaria resurgence remains and that constant vigilance is required to counter this threat through periodic serological surveys and surveillance for insecticide resistance, thereby ensuring effective vector-control methods.
Using molecular identification by employing DNA based techniques, Research Fellows of the Center have also identified new Anopheles mosquitoes, An. xui and An. dissidens, the first to be reported in India.
After each presentation, a question and answer round from research work on the field saw good participation from the stakeholders, which also paved way to the next step as to how the data obtained from these researches could be best utilized for the better implementation of the State run programmes for malaria.