Rajitha call for unity to eradicate malaria

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By 2017-12-11

Southern and East Asian countries must conduct a joint initiative to eradicate malaria, Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne said, addressing a gathering of Health Ministers of the southern and East Asian countries in New Delhi.

He added that although Sri Lanka was able to halt the local transmission of Malaria in 2012, due to the untiring efforts of the Anti-Malaria Campaign and received the 'Malaria Free' certification from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016, Sri Lanka remains a country with very high vulnerability to the disease.

"Despite being certified as 'Malaria Free', Sri Lanka is considered a country with very high vulnerability (due to the increased travel/migration of persons from malaria endemic countries) and receptivity (due to the presence of vector mosquitoes in high densities in many parts of the island), and thereby having an extremely high risk of resurgence," he said. The health minister added that to prevent the re-introduction of malaria in to the country, the Anti-Malaria Campaign carries out an intensive programme, aimed at mitigating all factors that increase such risk. These activities include detection and management of all imported cases of malaria, active parasitological and vector surveillance and increasing awareness among all stakeholders including the community.

Increased travel to and from neighbouring malaria-affected countries, resulting in cases of imported malaria, combined with the continued presence of malaria vector mosquitoes in formerly endemic areas in the country, make it both receptive and vulnerable for the reintroduction of malaria.

"After staying malaria-free for three consecutive years, the country was able to apply for World Health Organization certification of malaria elimination. Since, Sri Lanka was declared malaria-free on 5 September, the country has now emerged as an example of what is needed to eliminate malaria and what are the opportunities and challenges of a malaria-free status. It also shows the need for regional collaboration in order to achieve global malaria eradication," Senaratne said.

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