Drones may soon join the fight against mosquitoes in Gujarat, should the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) decide to implement suggestions made by state Health Minister Shankar Chaudhary. At the launch of “Malaria-mukt Ahmedabad” project here on Wednesday, Chaudhary started his speech on a lighter note, saying, “Everyone before me spoke so much about mosquitoes that I was tempted to quote a famous dialogue by (Bollywood actor) Nana Patekar on a ‘machchar’, but will refrain from doing so.”
As the audience applauded, he went on to liken mosquitoes with terrorists and said, “The mosquito is a terrorist. It is a silent killer, but we do not take the matter seriously. We take out candlelight march when people die (in terror incidents), but we are not aware of the number of deaths because of malaria. Last year, there were over 40,000 cases of malaria in the state and out of these around 6,000 were the cases of jehri malaria (caused by Plasmodium falciparum). Patriotism is also about fighting against such diseases.”
Most of us think that our houses are free of breeding sites, he said. “I think we should get drones. Drones should be used by the corporation (AMC) to check for mosquito breeding on terraces,” said Chaudhary. According to the AMC data, the city witnessed 6,358 cases of malaria in 2014, 6,857 in 2015 and 9,979 in 2016. In July 2016, the Gujarat government had declared malaria and dengue as notifiable diseases (required by law to be reported to government authorities).
Women and child development minister Nirmala Wadhwani, Ahmedabad mayor Gautam Shah, commissioner of health J P Gupta were among those who attended the event. They also spoke about collective responsibility in making Gujarat malaria-free by 2022.
“We will now observe every Thursday as ‘dry day’ in the city. On this day, people will empty and clean their water receptacles. As many as 1,650 health workers will visit 15.40 lakh houses and other places to check for mosquito breeding sites. These health workers aim at meeting their target in 16 days,” said Mayor Shah. On community participation, the health commissioner said , “We will ensure that identification of mosquito breeding sites becomes part of school projects.”