Church in India Battling Malaria Epidemic

ROME, JULY 18, 2001 ( Church leaders are dismayed over the outbreak of an epidemic of malaria in the Dumka Diocese, which is affecting 1 million people in the Dumka and Jamshedpur regions.

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The crisis has caused panic among residents. It was precipitated because insufficient amounts of DDT were sprayed in the vulnerable areas of Jharkhand state during June, the SAR news agency said.

On July 12, Bishop Julius Marandi of Dumka told SAR that Santal and Paharia tribals of the diocese were highly vulnerable to malaria. He attributed this to the shortage of blood-testing facilities in remote areas. Various kinds of malaria, especially the fatal types, could not be readily identified.

“Cerebral malaria is the most dangerous,” the bishop said. “If not treated promptly and effectively, it can easily prove to be the death warrant for patients. Tragically, 90% of the malaria cases in our diocese are cerebral malaria.”

Bishop Marandi added that the diocese runs about 50 health centers, under the supervision of nuns trained as nurses. “We are not able to reach many places despite our willingness,” he said. “We are scrambling to contain the catastrophe to the extent possible.”

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