The city’s public health department has created its own superhero to draw public attention towards curtailing vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. As the monsoon sets in, the civic body has fielded the ‘Machchar Man’ or ‘Mosquito Man’ to propagate the dos and dont’s of preventing mosquito breeding in residences and corporate houses.
Around 5,000 posters have been put up across the city by the BMC over the past week. The posters, in Hindi and Marathi, bear a picture of the affable mascot wearing a blue T-shirt and yellow trousers, who is seen suggesting simple ways to keep surroundings clean.
The BMC initiated the drive under its Mumbai Arogya Abhiyan, a mass urban slum outreach programme, that was initiated in 2010 to tackle deaths due to communicable diseases. The idea to create the Machchar Man was floated in an Information, Education and Communication meeting recently to discuss monsoon-related ailments.
“We were brainstorming on devising some new techniques to attract public attention and we thought about initiating a concept like Spider Man. The Machchar Man will educate and inform people about preventive measures to avoid mosquito breeding in their vicinity,” said Dr Padmaja Keskar, recently-appointed executive health officer at BMC.
One of the posters featuring Machchar Man urges citizens to cooperate with the civic officials to conduct the fumigation process in their surroundings. To avoid mosquito breeding during monsoons, BMC, through Machchar Man, has asked citizens not to let water stagnate in petri-dishes, flower pots or other crockery articles.
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Apart from posters and banners of the BMC’s anti-vector campaigns, jingles in the voice of Machchar Man will also be issued for public service announcements on radio.
The Machchar Man concept will work in addition to the BMC’s five-point programme to make the city dengue and malaria-free. The programme comprises contact tracing, micro-mapping, early diagnosis and referral of patients, conducting health camps and focused intervention in workplaces and residential areas.
Till mid-June, according to the civic health department, the city reported a total of 146 cases of dengue and 2,996 cases of malaria. Close to 30 dengue cases have been reported every month since January.
Dr Rajan Naringrekar, insecticide officer at BMC, said, “The only way to prevent dengue and malaria is by clearing all possible breeding sites. Fogging comes at a later stage.”