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April 26, 2019

High-burden districts get 2.5m bed nets for malaria prevention

Islamabad

April 26, 2019

Islamabad : Enhanced focus on early diagnosis, timely reporting, and prompt treatment at the community level can immensely contribute to lessening of the malaria burden in Pakistan—a country where 1 million cases of the disease are reported every year.

On a positive note, the country is already on track to reducing its malaria burden as is evident in the remarkable reduction in incidence of deadly form of falciparum malaria in the last five years. Moreover, the country, conducted its first-ever mass distribution of 2.5 million bed nets in 11 highest burden sharing districts of Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and merged areas of Sindh.

Views to this effect echoed at a World Malaria Day seminar organised here Thursday by the Directorate of Malaria Control (DoMC). Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Health Services Nausheen Hamid, Director of DoMC Dr. Baseer Achakzai, National Coordinator Dr. Aamir Ikram, and representatives of donor and partner agencies also attended the event.

Speaking on the occasion, Nausheen commended the Malaria Control Programme team for their tremendous efforts to save half of the million lives affected by malaria over the past two years. “The political leadership is committed to the control and elimination of malaria. This can be achieved by allocation of additional resources by the federal and provincial governments. Since malaria tends to victimize young children and pregnant women, investment in malaria prevention will ensure that our children are well enough to stay in school and are able to grow into productive members of the society. This will not only boost social well-being but also foster economic development,” she added.

Dr. Aamir Ikram said the malaria epidemic affects 1 million people in Pakistan and only half of the sufferers receive treatment. “However, we stand close to ending this epidemic as Pakistan has made remarkable progress in decreasing the malaria case count by 240,000,” he shared. The 2.5 million insecticide treated nets that have been distributed, if used regularly during the post-monsoon season, can serve as an effective tool to fight malaria. DoMC is also planning to distribute another 3.4 million bed nets in 21 districts of the country, he added.

Referring to this years theme of the day, ‘Zero Malaria Starts with me,’ Dr. Baseer Khan Achakzai said, this means that we as individuals are responsible for fighting against the menace of malaria. He said, the Malaria Control Programme has screened 6.3 million cases in 2018-19 and is providing free cost medicines to 72 districts of Pakistan through 4,000 microscopy centres. World Malaria Day is celebrated, not only to spread awareness about this ancient killer, but also to reflect on successes and to know what more needs to be done to eliminate the disease.

Dr. Palitha Mahipala from WHO endorsed the progress made by Pakistan to reduce malaria cases. He said, WHO is ready to provide every kind of technical support to DoMC for control of malaria and called for greater focus on early diagnosis and treatment at the community level.

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