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6/13/2008

Malaria poses big challenge

Filed under: disease/health,General,global islands,png,solomon islands — admin @ 9:36 am

Malaria remains one of the major public health challenges in Papua New Guinea with more than one million reported cases a year.

World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Eigil Sorensen said this in a media release on Friday to mark World Malaria Day.

Dr Sorensen said outbreaks of malaria in the highlands region continued to have a high mortality rate and more efforts would be required if the country was to reverse the incidence by 2015.

According to a WHO research, 40 percent of the world population is affected by malaria. It affected more than 500 million and killed more than one million annually.
Dr Sorensen said the distribution of long-lasting insecticidal-treated nets and the introduction of malaria rapid diagnostic tests had contributed to the reduction of the disease in some parts of the country.

This was facilitated by increased funding from the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, and through the efforts of the PNG national malarial control programme, government staff and Rotary Against Malaria.

“Prompt diagnosis and treatment remain one of the key elements of malaria prevention but the availability and distribution of medical supplies are adversely affecting the programme in rural areas,” Dr Sorensen said.

He also commended the Department of Health for revising the guidelines for malaria treatment in March and for excellent consultation with national and international stakeholders in this connection.

The new national treatment guidelines would introduce the latest treatment for malaria as first-line treatment for malaria in the country. Studies had shown the insecticidal bed nets and the availability of effective drugs had led to a clear drop in malaria-related deaths among children in Africa.

Dr Sorensen said the challenge was to make bed nets obtainable for everyone at risk of malaria, especially children and pregnant women and make the new anti-malarial medicines in the revised treatment guidelines available in rural areas.

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