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Army and Navy to join vector-control drive

Special Correspondent

Week-long cleanliness drive begins on Tuesday



TAKING STOCK: An all-party meet held in the capital on Saturday discusses steps to tackle vector-borne diseases in the State. Those from left are Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, Law Minister M. Vijayakumar, Food Minister C. Divakaran, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy. — Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Army and the Navy will assist the State Government in a week-long cleanliness drive being launched from Tuesday to tackle the mosquito-borne viral disease chikungunya which has affected more than 7,000 people in the State since January this year.

All political parties in the State promised their active involvement in the cleanliness drive when Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan called the leaders for an all-party meeting here on Saturday to discuss the measures required to handle the crisis.

Briefing the media after the meeting, Mr. Achuthanandan said the disease had so far claimed 36 lives in the State and its prevalence was more in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts. The affected people came mostly from the weaker sections of society.

General sentiment

The general sentiment at the meeting was that there should be total application on the part of the Government, various political parties and voluntary organisations to prevent the spread of the disease to new areas. All political parties said they would mobilise their workers to make the cleanliness drive a success, Mr. Achuthanandan said.

"With the experience of one outbreak of this disease behind us, we are in a better state of preparedness this time. The hospitals have sufficient stock of medicines and the doctors and paramedical staff are well prepared. Medical camps too will be opened wherever necessary," the Chief Minister said.

Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy, who too attended the media briefing, said medical teams from the Army and the Navy would reach here shortly to help the State tide over the crisis. She said fogging would be done in all panchayats to check the proliferation of mosquitoes.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy told the media after the meeting that the Opposition parties had suggested that the Government prepare a calendar indicating the periods of the year when epidemics of one kind or the other usually occurred in the State so that the health-care machinery could take up preventive measures ahead of the outbreaks.

Mr. Achuthanandan said the meeting proposed extending free ration for a month to the families in which any member had contracted chikungunya. Another suggestion was that the State should ban plastic carry-bags of all sorts because of the environmental pollution they caused, resulting in mosquito proliferation. The Government would call the representatives of plastic carry-bag manufactures in the State to weigh the pros and cons of this suggestion, he said.

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