World Health Organisation certifies Sri Lanka malaria-free

Sep 6, 2016 13:02 IST

The World Health Organisation on 5 September 2016 certified Sri Lanka a malaria-free nation.

Sri Lanka is the second country in the WHO South-East Asia Region to eliminate malaria after Maldives.

Sri Lanka’s anti-malaria campaign adjusted its strategy to intensively target the parasite after the malaria cases jumped in the 1970s and the 1980s and the 1990s. The change in strategy was unorthodox, but highly effective.

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How Sri Lanka emerged victorious over the deadly disease?

The country deployed mobile malaria clinics in high transmission areas. It helped in prompt and effective treatment and helped in reducing the parasite reservoir and the possibility of further transmission.

Effective surveillance, community engagement and health education enhanced the ability of authorities to respond, and mobilized popular support for the campaign.

The adaptation/ flexibility of strategies and support from key partners such as WHO and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria fast-tracked success.

By 2006, the country recorded less than 1000 cases of malaria per year.

By October 2012, the indigenous cases were down to zero.

From the last three-and-a-half years, no locally transmitted cases have been recorded in the country.

About Malaria

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans.

It causes symptoms that typically include fever, fatigue, vomiting and headaches.

If not properly treated, people may have recurrences of the disease months later.

The disease is most commonly transmitted by an infected female Anopheles mosquito.

The risk of disease can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites through the use of mosquito nets and insect repellents, or with mosquito-control measures.

The disease is widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions that exist in a broad band around the equator.

Malaria is commonly associated with poverty and has a major negative effect on economic development.

In Africa, it is estimated to result in losses of 12 billion US dollar a year due to increased healthcare costs, lost ability to work, and negative effects on tourism.

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