India has drafted in health workers from Medecins Sans Frontieres to help tackle what they said on Friday was a record number of malaria cases in the country’s financial capital, Mumbai.
The organisation said it was responding to a request from the local health ministry “to reinforce the supply of treatment”, including for the most deadly form of the disease, which has struck 10 to 15 per cent of victims.
MSF teams working on an HIV treatment scheme in Mumbai are now providing 100,000 diagnostic kits and 3700 treatment kits to 64 health centres. They will also train health workers to identify and treat the disease.
Tiago Dal Molin, the group’s project co-ordinator in Mumbai, said in a statement: “It is crucial that health staff can give a correct diagnosis so that patients can be treated appropriately.
“The diagnostic tests that we provide are reliable, easy to use and require just one drop of blood to give results.”
Outbreaks of malaria and water-borne diseases are common in some areas of overcrowded Mumbai, which is home to an estimated 18 million people.
The first six months of this year saw more than 14,700 cases of malaria – nearly as many as for the whole of 2009 – while a sharp rise in patients since the start of the monsoon rains in July has left hospitals struggling to cope.
Mumbai’s municipal authorities have expressed concern that the city’s many construction sites have become a haven for mosquitoes that spread the disease because they breed around stagnant water.
They suggested that 200,000 construction workers, many of them migrants who sleep on site, are at risk of infection.