Over 85% posts of anti-malaria staff across the city’s three municipal corporations are lying vacant, even as the country plans to eliminate the disease by 2030. There are 302 posts of anti-malaria officers across the three MCDs, of which only 40 are occupied as of now.
The role of anti-malaria officers is to manage field work, ranging from organising awareness programmes to monitoring vector-control activities. The capital has recorded 111 cases of malaria and 57 dengue cases so far this year.
“These posts have been vacant for many years. At this time of the year, the role of these officers becomes crucial. Regular field visits and coordinating with the resident welfare associations across the city is a part of their job. We are managing with the contractual staff, but it cannot be a regular exercise,” said a senior health department official.
Senior officials said that the health departments of the corporations are grappling with shortage of staff. Many said that key staff of the corporations’ health departments responsible for maintaining vital statistics of the vector-borne disease have not been hired for years.
According to sources, the issue has also been raised with the Lieutenant Governor. A senior official of the South MCD claimed that the duty of filling vacancies lies with Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board, which has not conducted exams for the last few years.
“We have repeatedly requested them to conduct exams so that vacancies are filled,” added the official.
“Posts remain vacant for long in the public health department. We have started the initiative and are preparing fresh recruitment rules for different posts. The recruitment process through UPSC would start immediately after that,” Varsha Joshi, commissioner, North MCD told The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, on World Mosquito Day, experts across the capital came forward to start a mass movement for collective action to build mass awareness and promote innovative solutions. Malaria No More (MNM) India, a US-based NGO, launched its flagship campaign, India Against Mosquito. World Mosquito Day is celebrated on August 20 every year to commemorate Sir Ronald Ross’s discovery of malaria transmission by mosquitoes.