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Field Station- Rourkela (Orissa)


Research Staff

1. S. K. Sharma, Senior Research Officer (Officer-in-Charge))
2. P. K. Tyagi, Senior Research Officer (IDVC)
3. K. Padhan, Assistant Research Scientist (IDVC)
4. M. A. Haque, Technical Officer (IDVC)
5. A. K. Upadhyay, Assistant Research Scientist (IDVC)

About Field Station

The field station at Rourkela in Sundargarh district (Orissa) was established in 1988 with the following objectives :

a) Conduct applied field research on malaria.
b) Develop and demonstrate appropriate disease vector control methods.
c) Study socio-economic aspects of malaria with particular reference to sustainability of interventions developed and
d) Facilitate transfer of technology to users.

Rourkela is an industrial city of Sundargarh district in Orissa state and is located in the Garhjat hills of eastern plateau between 20o-12N and 84o-53E at an altitude of 200 mt above sea level. The city is well connected by rail and is situated on Howrah-Mumbai railway route of South eastern Railway.

Physiographically the area consists of undulating uplands intersected by forested hills, rocky streams, rivers, springs and paddy fields in the valleys. The area is characterized by a tropical climate and receives high rainfall during Southwest monsoon (June-September) and retreating Northeast monsoon (December-January). Average annual rainfall ranges between 160-200cm. The minimum and maximum temperatures are in the range of 11oC to 44oC with a mean minimum and maximum temperature range of 14.3oC to 39.2oC during coldest and hottest months. Thirty six percent of the geographical area of the district has semi-evergreen or tropical dry deciduous forest. Nearly 62 % of the rural population consists of tribal population represented by 40 ethnic tribal communities.

Local Malaria Problems :

Malaria is a major public health problem in Orissa state, which contribute highest number of malaria cases (22 %), 43% of total P. falciparum cases and about 50% of all reported deaths due to malaria in the country although it constitute only 4% of the total population of India. Tribal areas of the state such as Sundargarh district are the most seriously affected regions of the state where malaria exists in meso- to hyper endemic form. P. falciparum is the major cause of malaria and accounts for 80-90% malaria cases in the tribal areas of the state, which have distinct ecological features such as hilly terrain, forest fringe and forested area or foothill ecosystems where all the malariogenic factors operate at their maximum efficiency. Malaria is clearly one of the major health problem in this region and is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality.

Malaria Vectors:

The entire state of Orissa is under the influence of two primary vector species viz., An. culicifacies and An. fluviatilis. The previously recorded An. sundaicus which caused many epidemics in the coastal areas in 1940s has totally disappeared. Of the two vector species, An. culicifacies is widely prevalent in the plain and coastal area where malaria is less and seasonal, whereas, An. fluviatilis is restricted to the hilly forested or foothill area of the state and is responsible for intense transmission due to high anthropophilic index of this species.

Highlights of the work done

Over the last 14 years of existence of field station in a highly malaria endemic area, the following studies were successfully completed.

1. Bioenviornmental control of malaria :

An alternate control strategy based on bioenvironmental method was successfully demonstrated in 39 villages (population 38664) of Bisra PHC during 1988-91. Three years of intervention brought down malaria incidence in the experimental villages significantly as compared to control villages under DDT spray.

2. Field trials on insecticide treated mosquito nets (ITMN) :

Efficacy trials on insecticide treated mosquito nets with synthetic pyrethroids were successfully completed in tribal area of Kuarmunda PHC (population 6000) as well as mining area (population 10,000) of the district during 1990-1994.

3. Community acceptance of insecticide treated mosquito nets (ITMN) trial in tribal area of Keonjhar district :

A collaborative field trial under operational research studies was successfully completed in a tribal area of Janghira sector in Keonjhar district. The three year project (1995-97) was financed by Orissa Health Project Office of the British Council Division with funds from Overseas Development Agency (ODA). The project was first of its kind where an attempt had been made to ascertain whether such type of intervention measure can be accepted, financed and sustained by the communities with poor socio-economic status and living in malaria endemic areas.

4. Transfer of technology :

The bioenvironmental approach and use of insecticide treated mosquito nets for malaria control have received wide acclaim and some of the components of these strategies have been integrated in the national programme for control of vector borne diseases.

5. Mosquito breeding in Riceland agroecosystem with reference to malaria :

A two year study was conducted during 1992-94 on mosquito breeding in different rice agro-ecosystems. The study had shown that main rice fields contribute to malaria vectors poorly and that too either in the beginning of the crop or in the fallow fields. The associated habitats such as streams, rice field pools and channels/canals were the real contributors to the vectors of malaria. Appropriate vector control strategy was developed based on these findings.

6. Field trials on biolarvicides :

Field trials were conducted on two biolarvicides viz., B. sphaericus and B. thuringiensis israelensis H-14 in urban area of Rourkela town to assess their efficacy in bringing down density of nuisance mosquitoes.

7. Bio-ecology of malaria vectors in Orissa :

Over the years, Orissa has witnessed vast changes as a result of industrilization, urban development, deforestation and irrigation. Considering all these factors, studies on the bio-ecology of malaria vectors in different topographical areas of Orissa viz., hill, plain and coastal areas were completed. The adult behaviour of two vector species viz., An. culicifacies and An. fluviatilis varied in all the three ecotypes and correspondingly malaria was more prevalent in hill area followed by plain and coastal area.

8. Malaria transmission dynamics :

The study was initiated as a part of a collaborative project with Ispat General Hospital, Rourkela and International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi. The studies were conducted in a small tribal village under Birkera PHC of Sundargarh district which was characterized by high falciparum malaria prevalence and asymptomatic carriers. Cross-sectional and longitudinal epidemiological studies were carried out to collect data on malariological parameters. In addition, molecular epidemiological studies on the parasite diversity and immune response in the endemic population were carried out.

9. Development of site for vaccine trial :

A collaborative project of MRC and ICGEB which is being funded by the Department of Biotechnology has been initiated in Sundargarh district to prepare suitable field trial site for efficacy trials of malaria vaccines.

10. Malaria prevalence among pregnant women and children :

A collaborative operational research study to assess malaria prevalence among children of 12-24 month age group and pregnant women was undertaken by MRC/CARE - Orissa in 36 anganwadi villages of Harichandanpur block in Keonjhar district. The study was a part of anaemia control project with the objective to control the incidence of malaria which in conjuction with iron supplementation can control the prevalence of anaemia.

11. Field testing of malaria diagnostic kits :

The field station has carried out field efficacy trials on ICT test kit developed by an Australian biotechnology company and also on quantitative buffy coat (QBC) technique for their sensitivity, specificity and efficiency in comparison with routine microscopic examinations.

12. Socio-economic aspect of tribal malaria :

Study on the socio-economic factors and human behaviour in a cross-section of tribal communities in Sundargarh district, Orissa revealed that poor socio-economic status and socio-cultural factors play important role in maintaining high degree of malaria transmission. Human behaviour such as location of hamlets, type of housing, sleeping habits, outdoor activities after dusk, poor knowledge about the disease and treatment seeking behaviour are of great significance as determinants of malaria transmission. All these factors need to be considered before planning community health programme. Estimation of economic loss due to malaria showed an average loss of 8.96 mandays per malaria patient with an average loss of 3.84 mandays to other family members. Mean total loss per malaria episode comes to Rs.334.91. The study showed that malaria is one of the major disease affecting the tribals to the greatest extent and putting a lot of burden on the economic upliftment of these communities.

13. Malaria Clinic :

Malaria clinic of the field station provide referral services to medical practitioners for diagnosis and treatment of malaria. On an average about 10,000 people report at the malaria clinic every year for free malaria check-up and treatment.

14. Health education and training programme :

Health education activities involving health camps and malaria exhibitions and lectures on malaria and control strategies are being regularly organized in schools/colleges, public places and hospitals.


1. Malaria transmission dynamics and field studies on P. falciparum : (A collaborative project of MRC, ICGEB and IGH, Rourkela)

a) Date of Initiation : January, 1999
b) Expected date of completion : December,2003
c) Source of funding : Intra-mural (All three institutes)

2. Vector bionomics in different ecotypes of Sundargarh district

a) Date of initiation : April, 1998
b) Expected date of completion : March,2003
c) Source of funding : Intra-mural

3. Development of field site for malaria vaccine trials : (A collaborative project of MRC and ICGEB)

a) Date of initiation : June, 2000
b) Expected date of completion : March, 2007
c) Source of funding : Deptt. of Biotechnology.

4. Comparative evaluation of bio-efficacy and persistence of mosquito nets treated with deltamethrin tablet formulation against malaria vectors An. fluviatilis and An. culicifacies and its impact on malaria transmission in
malaria endemic tribal area of Sundargarh district.

a) Date of initiation : July,2002.
b) Expected date of completion : December, 2003
c) Source of funding : Sponsored by Aventis CropScience India Ltd.

5. Genetic diversity of P. falciparum and P. vivax in India : Development of microsatellite markers.

a) Date of initiation : April, 2002
b) Expected date of completion : March, 2005
c) Source of funding : ICMR

6. Assessment of therapeutic efficacy of chloroquine and sulfapyrimethamine in uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in India

a) Date of initiation : April,2002
b) Date of completion : March,2004
c) Source of funding : WHO under Roll Back Malaria Initiative.

Besides above projects, the scientists at the field station are also involved in regular activities such as transfer of technology, epidemic investigations, IEC & training programmes etc.

For further information, please contact:

Dr SK Sharma


Malaria Research Centre Field Station

Sector 5

Rourkela-769002 (Orissa)

E-mail :

Phone: +91-661-4647300

Fax: +91-661-4641207