Eliminating malaria in Guyana possible, says PAHO/WHO Country Rep

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Cases of malaria in Guyana have dropped dramatically in recent years and PAHO/WHO Country Representative Dr. William Adu-Krow says eradicating the disease is possible.

PAHO/WHO representative Dr William Adu-Krow

Dr Adu-Krow mentioned the mosquito-borne disease as part of the continued push by the Pan American/Word Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) to tackle the big three major communicable diseases in Guyana- the other two being Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that can lead to AIDS, and tuberculosis, the Department of Public Information (DPI) reported.

In the case of malaria “we see Guyanese cases falling from 45,000 (infected) every year to a mere 11,000 so it gives me hope that we can actually eliminate malaria with time. Barbados has done it so we should be able to,” he told reporters Monday.

Only certain species of mosquitoes of the Anopheles genus—and only females of those species—can transmit malaria.
Malaria is caused by a one-celled parasite called a Plasmodium. Female Anopheles mosquitoes pick up the parasite from infected people when they bite to obtain blood needed to nurture their eggs. Inside the mosquito the parasites reproduce and develop. When the mosquito bites again, the parasites contained in the salivary gland are injected and pass into the blood of the person being bitten.

The news is less encouraging for HIV. While its prevalence had been decreasing to a low of 1900 people taking anti-retroviral therapy in 2006, recent data shows an increase in new cases. “All of a sudden, new cases are rising which means people are just tired about hearing of HIV and they think it is no longer an issue but it is still an issue and we have to do something about it.” Statistics provided by Global Fund indicates that additional persons placed on anti-retroviral treatment for HIV increased from 3800 in 2012 to 4800 in 2016.

Meanwhile new tuberculosis cases are also on the rise from 270 cases in 2007 to 2210 in 2016. Dr. Adu-Krow indicated that this is also the most expensive of all the diseases since the advent of multi-drug resistant strains. “We are getting more and more people getting to what we call resistant TB. Those cases are very difficult to treat and not only that, it cost about ten times more to treat those cases.”

Multi-drug resistant TB cases develop when the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB) can withstand the effect of the drugs. This has become about due to infected people not taking the full complement of medication.

The Pan American/Word Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) country office, Guyana, continues to work closely with the Ministry of Public Health to control and eliminate the prevalence of communicable diseases, DPI said.

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