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Malaria outbreak in flood-hit areas6.2m mosquito nets to be imported from India

October 12, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The government has allowed the health authorities to procure 6.2 million mosquito nets from India to save people in the flood-hit districts countrywide where malaria is spreading apace, an official in the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination told The News on Tuesday.

In the absence of permanent shelter, millions of people are living close to huge ponds of stagnant water which have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. “The government has allowed procurement of 6.2 million mosquito nets from India, for which funds are being provided by the Global Fund, while the procurement would be done by the World Health Organization (WHO),” said the official.

The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that the second wave of disaster in the form of vector and water-borne diseases has begun in the flood affected areas, saying 32 districts among the 80 calamity-hit areas are facing the worst malarial outbreak.

The world health body fears over 2.7 million people might contract malaria by January 2023. The official said it was the one-time permission granted by the commerce ministry to the health authorities after the international humanitarian agencies said such a large number of mosquito nets at affordable rates were only available in India, which could be transported to Lahore through the Wagah border.

The official maintained that earlier the plan was to procure 7.1 million mosquito nets but later the number was revised down to 6.2 million. The health ministry official maintained that they had requested the Global Fund for arranging mosquito nets for the 32 most affected districts of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab where Plasmodium Falciparum cases were continuously on the rise.

“Children are the most affected facing acute malnutrition. If they contract malaria, saving their lives is extremely difficult. In order to prevent child mortality due to the outbreak of malaria and other vector-borne diseases in the flood affected areas, we urgently need mosquito nets”, the official said, adding that they were expecting the nets between second to third week of November.

On the other hand, WHO officials in Pakistan said they were fearing two million malaria cases by December and around 2.7 million cases by the end of January 2023 from these districts. “In order to prevent mortality due to malaria, the WHO is providing rapid diagnostic kits and anti-malarial medicines worth $2.5 million while technical support is also being provided to the federal and provincial governments to deal with the malaria outbreaks.

As larvicidal preventive measures are not possible in flood-affected areas, prophylactic treatment and post-exposure treatments are being arranged to treat malaria patients”, WHO’s Country Representative to Pakistan Dr. Palitha Mahipala told The News.