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Use of Gambosia fish for prevention of Malaria, Rajasthan
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Subject Area="Behavioural Change Communication." Objective="No cost prevention of malaria."
Details for Reform Option "Use of Gambosia fish for prevention of Malaria, Rajasthan"

Background: With the recurrence of communicable diseases such as malaria across the country, the Central and State governments have tried to reinforce strategies for malaria control. During a medical education programme attended by doctors at Bikaner, Rajasthan in 2004, the use of gambosia fish was demonstrated as a no-cost method of preventing malaria. Action The education programme motivated the Chief Medical Health Officer (CMHO) from Churu district in northern Rajasthan, to take a small quantity of gambosia fish from Bikaner to his office in Churu. The driver and Male Multipurpose Worker (MPW) were trained to collect the fish from the hatcheries, transport them and release them in the public underground water tanks, traditional water storage tanks (referred as bawdis), district hospital, Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) across the districts. By end of one year all the tanks and ponds within Churu have become breeding sites for gambosia fish. All the public health facilities have become demonstration sites as well as hatcheries of gambosia fish. Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wives (ANMs) was trained to impart information to the community about the use of gambosia fish in the prevention of malaria including how to maintain the breeding sites of the fish. In all health camps, demonstrations of gambosia fish eating larvae are given to the community. Result: Although Churu is not a malaria endemic zone, the district does have a number of stagnant water sites. Since the introduction of gambosia fish, a large number of people in the district have adopted this technique. The district level comparative epidemiological report for 2004 and 2005 given in documents and illustration reveals reduction in positive cases. The government through various orders has notified the district to take precautions against malaria. In 2005 government of Rajasthan directed all the districts to launch operation malaria control from August in which CMHOs are directed to (a) constitute mobile teams in the district. (b) The team should make visit to rural areas, visit house to house and check blood slides and also provide treatment. (c) Start anti-larval activities to breeding places (d) in high risk areas establish temporary microscopy centres for active surveillance and (e) initiate information education communication (IEC) activities. The collectors have been given the responsibility to monitor the programmes.

Cost No cost other than transporting larva.
Place Community health centres (CHCs), primary healh care centres (PHCs), Sub-Centres, ponds in Churu district, Rajasthan.
Time Frame Three to 6 months for developing a hatchery of gambosia fish.

Cost: No cost involved as fishery department distributes fish freely. Technique: Simple and non-harmful technique. Easy to transport. Easy to develop hatcheries. Unskilled: Does not involve technically trained staff. Utilization: Can be used at community level.


Maintenance: Need to see that the water does not overflow or run dry. Predatory fish and dead fish should be periodically removed.


Presence of fresh/ brackish water bodies. Accord with the concerned authority at district level. Government order.

Who needs to be consulted

Chief Medical Health Officer of district concerned. Medical Officers from PHCs.



Yes. The gambosia is freely available. Regular maintenance of the breeding sites is a necessary pre-requisite.

Chances of Replication

Replicable in malaria endemic regions as gambosia fish is freely available. Authorities as well as communities understand the usefulness of this preventive measure.


The Gambosia fish was brought from Italy in 1928 and mass production of the gambosia affinis was undertaken in many parts of the country. It breeds three times a year and can be used in various breeding sites like drains and underground tanks. Initially, this was introduced with pisci culture of Carp where it was found to have no adverse impact on edible fish and the mosquito nuisance decreased to such levels that other farmers were motivated. The fish consumes 200 to 300 mosquito larvae in a day.


Submitted By

Dr. Nandini Roy, HS-PROD Research Consultant, NIMS. September 2005.

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