Agartala: With the death of one more child the toll in the malaria outbreak in northern Tripura rose to 21, a minister said here Saturday.
Over 400 people have fallen ill due to the outbreak of malaria in the two sub-divisions of Gandachera and Longtharai Valley in the tribal dominated mountainous areas.
"Twenty one people, including 18 children and youth, died and more than 400 have fallen ill in the past one week in two sub-divisions of Dhalai district. All the affected have been admitted to various government hospitals," Tripura's Health Minister Badal Choudhury told reporters Friday.
The unofficial death toll due to malaria stands at more than 30 and of those who have fallen ill at over 600.
Choudhury, who visited the malaria affected areas Friday and Saturday along with medical experts, said: "Four medical teams have been working in the tribal inhabited Gandachera and Longtharai Valley sub-divisions".
"To deal with the situation effectively, the leave of all doctors, nurses and health workers has been cancelled. Health officials are visiting remote villages and making arrangements to bring the malaria affected people to the government hospitals," the minister said.
A helicopter was on standby to ferry doctors, health staff and patients in an emergency.
Five temporary medical camps are functioning in the affected areas to treat malaria patients and take preventive measures.
A senior health department official said that at least 50 health workers, including 26 ASHA (Accredited social health activists), 13 ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) and three MPW (Multi-Purpose Workers) have been either suspended from service or would face punitive action for negligence at work.
The government has been advised by experts to use second generation medicine instead of traditional medicines to prevent malaria deaths.
The health department has already stocked sufficient medicines in each sub-division and health centres to ensure speedy and effective treatment.
All eight northeastern states, besides West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka are highly malaria prone where several hundred people die every year due to the disease.