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April 30, 2011

Malaria still rampant in the country


April 30, 2011

Over 4.7 million malaria cases reported in Pakistan in 2010, compared to just 125,000 in 2009. Of the total 4.7 million, only 50,000 were reported from the flood-affected areas of the country.
“These figures show the severity of the situation with regards to the mosquito-born disease that has a higher mortality rate than dengue fever due to weak management,” said World Health Organization (WHO) official Qutubuddin Kakar at a discussion on Malaria at a local hotel on Friday.
Experts from the Malaria Control Program, pharmaceutical industry, international health agencies as well as health department officials attended the discussion and stressed upon the need for creating awareness on the disease that in the past wiped our entire civilizations in the past and still poses a threat to the human race.
They said the growing number of malaria cases in Pakistan is turning out to be a serious concern as the country is classified in the 3rd category of EMR, which is contributing to 95 percent of the total burden in the world of the Anopheles-mosquito born disease. The experts added that the alarming situation has yet to catch the attention of the relevant health officials.
Qutubuddin Kakar, World Health Organization (WHO) officer associated with the malaria control program said malaria cases are being reported in Pakistan due to poor management and lack of awareness among authorities about its severity and danger to the local population.
Talking about the disease and its cause of spread, he said the Anopheles mosquito is the prime female species that cause this disease, adding that malaria could be prevented if we didn’t allow it to breed.
In 2010, a staggering 4.7 million cases were screened in Pakistan while only 125,000 cases were detected in 2009. Moreover, 50,000 malaria cases were reported from flood affected areas, he informed.
He said 20,000 cases were only detected in Punjab in 2010. These cases were found in the four

districts of Rajanpur, Layya, Muzaffargarh and DG Khan.
Malaria cases are more widespread in FATA and Balochistan compared to Sindh, but despite preventive measures and campaigns, the disease is spreading with each passing day, the WHO official warned.
He said certain factors, including the changing environment, natural and man-made disasters as well as weak health care systems were some of the reasons behind the growing occurrence of malaria and the failure to curb it effectively.
“There should be a quality assured diagnosis and a prompt effective treatment for proper elimination of the malaria menace,” he stressed.
Naheed Jamali, Director Malaria Control Program Sindh, admitted that malaria was not being given the adequate attention, considering that the disease is a great danger to the people.
“Sindh has a low number of Malaria cases, which could
be curbed further in the near future through collective efforts of medical professionals, governmental officials and the pharmaceutical industry,” she believed.
Dr Muhammad Ali, Head of the Pediatrician department, Services Hospital Lahore questioned why the name of Malaria Eradication Program was changed to Malaria Control Program in 1960s by the then government, saying that a rational approach should be adopted to eradicate the disease from the country.
He stressed that government should focus on a preventive strategy and said efforts should be made to eliminate vector mosquitoes, otherwise, he warned if would be immensely difficult to treat patients with malaria in such large numbers.
Dr Abrar Sheikh, Head of Medicine Collage Sukkur said doctors must be well aware of what to prescribe in complicated and uncomplicated malaria. Many a time the disease becomes worse when health professionals give a wrong diagnosis, causing the patient to suffer greatly.
Professor S.M Munir of JPMC Karachi and Additonal Secretary Health Dr. Suresh Kumar also spoke on the occasion.

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