46% increase in malaria cases over last 5 years – Health Minister

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The Ministry of Health on Monday launched its campaign against malaria at the Mabaruma Town Council, Barima-Waini Region, providing some 33,950 insecticide-treated bed nets for households and mining camps there.

Minister Dr. Frank Anthony says the Government is working to decrease the spread of the disease, which has increased by 46 per cent over the last five years.

“As of last year, I’m told that we had about 18,430 cases of malaria in this country. That’s a lot of people that got bitten by mosquitoes and got infected by mosquitoes, and most of those cases are either in Region One, Region Seven, Region Eight or Region Nine.

“In fact, for these for regions it accounts for close to 95 per cent of all cases of malaria and if we are going to reduce the burden of malaria on this country, it would mean that we have to go where we are seeing these cases.”

Dr. Anthony said the mass net distribution plan seeks to prevent the spread of malaria, by reducing the number of persons bitten by mosquitoes.

A total of 16,950 nets are for beds while 17,000 are to be fitted on hammocks. The insecticide-treated nets will last three years.

“If you have two beds or three beds, you’re going to get nets for those beds. If you’re in a mining camp and are sleeping in a hammock, we have nets specially tailored for those hammocks.

If you are living in an environment where you don’t have beds but hammocks, you are going to get nets for your hammocks,” Minister Anthony said.

The Minister said the Government is simultaneously working to decrease the mosquito population using another method.

“We’re working with some other partners who are assisting us to work on techniques where we can sterilise some of the mosquitos, so that when you loose them back into the wild, it would reduce the population of mosquitoes as a whole.”

This project is expected to commence in 2022.

Dr. Anthony said his Ministry aims to make the country healthier, and will be tailoring the regional health plans to address specific needs and issues acute to each region.

“The areas where you have more malaria, we have to focus on reducing the burden of malaria. Maybe on the coastland that’s not a problem, but certainly in the interior area this is a problem.

That is why we must be flexible and understand the disease burdens that we have in the region.”

Meanwhile, Regional Chair, Mr. Brentnol Ashley urged residents to utilise the treated nets instead of keeping them stored.

“These nets are being provided are not to be used to catch fish or yack in the trench, but rather to ensure that the lives of each person in the family is protected as the day goes by, especially those who are living in remote areas of our Region; they are more at risk of contracting malaria.”

He said villages in Mabaruma such as Whitewater, Yarakita and villages in the Barima area are at higher risk of spreading malaria.

The malaria campaign is being rolled out under the theme, ‘Don’t go to bed with a malaria mosquito; sleep under your treated net always.’

The Ministry’s Vector Control Services would be launching the initiative in Region Nine next week.

Malaria is spread by the anopheles mosquito. A person becomes infected when bitten by an infected female anopheles mosquito.  The Government is working to reduce malaria transmission by 2025.