Floods pour cold water over Pakistans dream to become malaria-free

2 mins read

ISLAMABAD: While World Malaria Day was observed under a global theme, ‘Accelerating the fight against malaria for a more equitable world’ on 25 April 2024, Pakistan has committed to controlling the mosquito-borne disease, hoping to ‘become malaria free by 2035’.

Once, Pakistan was eying the status of a malaria-free country but now it seems the goal may not be achieved in the near future. Health Ministry’s Special Secretary Syed Waqar ul Hassan said that the lingering public health challenge posed by malaria was exacerbated by the 2022 floods. He was speaking to participants of an event organised by the health ministry in collaboration with the Common Management Unit (CMU) for AIDS, TB and Malaria, in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Mr Hassan called for a united effort from all stakeholders, including policymakers, civil society organisations, UN agencies, NGOs, communities, and healthcare providers.

CMU National Coordinator Dr Razia Kaniz Fatima said that the CMU, in collaboration with the provincial programmes and with the support of the Global Fund (GF) and partnership with the Indus Hospital and Health Network (IHHN), was providing free of cost malaria prevention, diagnostic and treatment interventions through more than 5,500 public and private healthcare facilities in remote areas of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh.

`With the GF support, about 11.1 million suspects were tested for malaria, and 2.6 million confirmed cases were successfully treated during last year. Further, 6.1 million insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) were distributed in 20 high-burden districts, she said.

Dr Luo Dapeng, WHO representative to Pakistan, reaffirmed WHO`s commitment to combat malaria and support initiatives for a malaria-free Pakistan. He lauded the accelerated response of national and provincial programmes to combating malaria outbreaks during floods while presenting an animated video providing a historical overview of the malaria situation.

Dr Shahzad Ali Khan, vice chancellor of the Health Services Academy, emphasised the profound impact of malaria on individuals, families, and communities, urging heightened political and social commitment to alleviate its burden. He commended the efforts of healthcare workers, researchers, policymakers and communities worldwide in the fight against malaria.

It is worth mentioning that in 2022, because of floods, Pakistan reported 3.4 million cases of malaria. An official of the health ministry, requesting anonymity, said Pakistan had contacted the WHO in 2020 to start the process of declaring Punjab malaria-free but the move could not be implemented due to Covid-19 and a change of management in the malaria control wing.

The floods during the last three years, however, have made it difficult to turn this dream into reality, he added.

`…the health ministry claims that as per the national malaria strategy, Punjab, AJK, GB and ICT [Islamabad Capital Territory] will be declared malaria-free by 2025, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan will reduce their malaria incidence(s) up to 70pc till 2030, and Pakistan will be malaria-free till 2035, he said.

According to details, at least 42 countries or territories have reached the malaria free milestone. Last year WHO certified Azerbaijan and Tajikistan for achieving elimination of malaria in their territories. The certification followed a sustained, century long effort to stamp out the disease by the two countries.

Certification of malaria elimination is the official recognition by WHO of a country’s malaria-free status. The certification is granted when a country has shown with rigorous, credible evidence that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission by anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted nationwide for atleast the past three consecutive years. A country must also demonstrate the capacity to prevent the re-establishment of transmission.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 26th April 2024.
Previous Story

Kasur child abuse case High court acquits two convicts

Next Story

Employer held as minor home help succumbs to burns

Latest from Blog

Addressing the digital gender gap

GENDER equality is not just a basic human right. It is also a cornerstone of a thriving, contemporary economy that fosters sustainable, inclusive growth. Acknowledging that gender equality is crucial ensures that both men and women can contribute fully to advancing societies and economies. The path forward is challenging. According…

Another education emergency

An education emergency has been imposed by the federal government to stem and cure the rot of 26.2 million out-of-school children (OOSC), the second highest in the world according to Unicef. The farce of education emergency has been enacted many a time with no discernible remedial impact. Einstein said: “We…

Three remanded in teenage girl’s gang rape case

KARACHl: A judicial magistrate has remanded three suspects in police custody for their alleged involvement in subjecting a teenage schoolgirl to gang rape and filming the heinous offence. The investigating officer (IO) of the case brought the three suspects before the judicial magistrate (Malir) and sought their 14-day physical remand.…

Gang involved in filming and blackmailing girls smashed

LAHORE: Narowal police have unearthed a gang involved in filming women picnicking along with their families at the BambanwalaRavi-Bedian (BRB) Canal and blackmailing them later with threats to upload `objectionable` material on social media to mint money or to exploit them sexually. With `several suspects and nominated accused` in custody,…

Unicef to launch child rights protection programme

KARACHI: The Sindh government and Unicef on 16 May 2024 agreed to launch a child protection programme to reduce child rights violations and harmful traditional practices. A statement issued from CM House said that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Unicef Country Representative Abdullah A. Fadil in their meeting…
Go toTop