Malaria Rears its Head in Rural Uttar Pradesh; Deaths Due to ‘Fever’ Being Reported
Heavy rainfall in September is being linked to a spike in fever cases in some districts of Uttar Pradesh. Test reports point towards malaria, a mosquito-borne disease. Villagers blame stagnant water pools and unclean drains. A ground report.
Virendra Singh & Ramji Mishra 9 Oct 2023 3:04 PM GMT
Sitapur/ Barabanki/ Lakhimpur Kheri
Rajni Devi is traumatised by the mere mention of the word ‘platelets’. The grief stricken mother cannot stop talking about her 17-year-old daughter, Goldi, who died two weeks back.
“I don’t know what it is, it is something present in the blood. My daughter had a fever and her platelets were low… we spent a lot of money to save her but we couldn’t,” the 42-year old resident of Silhapur village in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur told Gaon Connection.
“We took her to a private hospital in the city when she had a fever but doctors sent her home after a few days. That night, she ate some food but she soon passed away,” Rajni Devi narrated while wiping her tears.
Her teenage daughter’s blood test report showed malaria, a copy of which is with Gaon Connection.
Goldi, who died on September 26 in a village in Sitapur, is just one of hundreds in rural Uttar Pradesh who have been reporting fever and mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue. It is being claimed that heavy rainfall last month in September has led to a surge in vector-borne diseases due to water logging.
Almost every household in Silhapur with its population of about 2,000, has a member who is burning up with fever. When Gaon Connection visited the village on October 4, there was water logging in several areas. It is being alleged that poor sanitary conditions are contributing to the rise of mosquito-borne diseases.
Shyampati, an 18-year-old girl who lived a few metres away from the deceased Goldi’s house, also passed away a week after the teenager. Her family said she died of ‘fever’.
About 18 kilometres from Goldi and Shyampati’s village lies Jamunha village. Gudiya Bhargava lives there. She lost her 18-year-old son to ‘fever’.
“My son Surjeet studied in class 11. He had a fever for two days and died a day after Rakshabandhan [September 1]. It has been two months and some one or the other in our family of seven is always down with fever,” she told Gaon Connection. She could not show medical reports of her son, which she claimed she had misplaced after the death of her son.
Sita Devi, another resident from Jamunha village said that her husband Siyaram had a fever and he used to get chills (jaada) and died.
Not too far lives 35-year-old Sunil Rajvanshi, who has six members in his family. “Except for my elder son Nishchal and me, everyone else has had fever in my family. We got tests done and malaria was confirmed,” Rajvanshi told Gaon Connection.
Meanwhile, Kiran Lata, an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) from Jamunha village said that she has been urging people to get treated for fever.
“But sometimes, people hide their fever. Whenever we get to know about any patient, we try our best to take the person to the hospital,” she said.
The district administration is not unaware of the rising fever cases. “We are aware that malaria is spreading in the district. The number of cases in the post monsoon season is high every year. The situation will get better after Diwali [November 12],” Harpal Singh, the head of medical administration in Sitapur told Gaon Connection.
“We are keeping a vigil on the situation and awareness drives are underway. Fumigation of anti-larval sprays is being ensured,” he added.
Harpal Singh informed that as of October 9 the district has 418 active cases of malaria.
Over 100 kilometres from Sitapur, doctors in the neighbouring Barabanki district told Gaon Connection that the number of patients with symptoms of malaria and dengue had shot up.
“Ninety per cent of the patients who are visiting me for treatment are complaining of fever. The fever is causing a decrease in the haemoglobin and the liver is getting affected. Between September and now, the number of patients at my clinic has gone from 25 per day to nearly 80 per day,” Mohammad Akram, a general physician in Barabanki’s Belhara town, told Gaon Connection.
“It is difficult to manage such a surge in the patients. The pharmacies are also having difficulty in handling such a footfall,” he added.
“My son has been coughing and sneezing for the last ten days while my daughter has high fever. I have to walk six kilometres to go to the samudaayik swaasthya kendra [community health centre] to get the medicines. I have nobody else at home to bring the medicines,” Ram Dularu, a resident of Richli village in Barabanki district, told Gaon Connection.
According to information from the Chief Medical Officer’s office, in a random screening of 451 patients across the nine blocks of Barabanki district, 109 had fever. On October 5, one patient was found to have malaria, four had dengue, and three Scrub Typhus (caused due to mites).
In a press statement issued on October 7, Awadhesh Yadav, the Chief Medical Officer in Barabanki said that the villagers in the district were being provided with mosquito nets, medicines, and health kits.
Reports of fever have been pouring in from Lakhimpur Kheri district too. Santosh Gupta, the chief medical officer in Lakhimpur Kheri, informed Gaon Connection that there are 257 active cases of malaria in the district but there hasn't been any death on record.
“Every household in our village has some or the other member down with fever. My mother was diagnosed with malaria. Since her condition was grave, we got her treated at a private hospital and had to shell out a lot of money,” Ramnivas, a 22-year-old resident of Palhapur village in Lakhimpur district, told Gaon Connection.
He alleged that there has been no visit by any health team in his village in Kheri and nor has any fumigation been carried out.
Suman Hindunagar, a 50-year-old resident of Palhapur village, said that for the past one month or so, the entire village was in the grip of a fever. “Patients have body ache, chills and weakness,” he said.
Sixty-year-old Bechlal lives in the same village. “My brother Kamta Prasad died after getting a fever. Though he was old like me but definitely did not deserve to die,” said Bechlal. He also informed that the family regularly burnt neem leaves and dung cakes to ward off mosquitoes.
Villagers in Lakhimpur Kheri complained that open drains and stagnant water was a major concern. “I have suffered from a high fever. It spreads due to mosquitoes. The drains in the village are open which invite mosquito breeding,” said Shashi, a villager from Sukhwa village in Mitauli block in Lakhimpur Kheri.