The workers have now been told they could be charged with culpable homicide if there are any more deaths in their areas.
''We have given them a clear warning. If anyone in their area dies of malaria, they will be charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder,'' said Dr Padamakar Tripathy, the District Malaria Officer of Bhopal and Sehore Division.
The government's argument: Health workers are a critical link in the battle against malaria.
Malaria cases are at an alarming all-time high in the state. In Bhopal, 22 malaria deaths were reported in the month of September alone. In Sehore too, 23 people died of malaria in the same month.
Early detection and treatment could have helped save many lives, but health workers' response was negligent and too late.
Blood samples in vulnerable areas had to be collected January onwards to monitor the trends. But health workers started the collection only in June. By then, the districts were in the grip of the disease.
The government's pressure tactic is a desperate attempt to make ground health workers more accountable. But it seems it has missed the target.
''If such an action is taken against anyone, we will bring all health services to a halt,'' says Arun Dwedi, state president of an employee union.