HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Health and Population is preparing to observe World Malaria Day with a vision of declaring Nepal free of the disease by 2026.
The government is working to improve access to early detection and prompt treatment at all levels to ensure early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, said authorities.
As a first step towards ridding the country of the disease authorities are planning to declare a ‘preliminary’ eradication of the disease — cut in incidence of locally transmitted malaria by 20 per cent of current levels and reduction in the number of VDCs having indigenous malaria cases (as of 2010) by 75 per cent, said Dr GD Thakur, director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division.
World Malaria Day is going to be marked on April 25 with the slogan ‘Sustain gains, save lives: Invest in Malaria’.
In Nepal, 13 districts are considered most vulnerable to the disease, which has been recorded in 65 districts. According to government figures, 20.8 million Nepalis are currently at risk of infection.
According to the ministry, six deaths and 229 severe malaria cases were recorded in 2010. A year earlier, eight deaths and 129 severe cases were reported.
“The ministry is adopting strategies such as early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, multiple prevention, epidemic preparedness and behavioural change to fight the disease,” added Thakur.
Thakur said the government has distributed 2.18 lakh free long-lasting insecticide treated nets till 2011. In the year 2011 alone, the ministry has distributed 8.95 lakh of such nets.
The World Health Organisation says 2.5 million cases of malaria are reported annually worldwide. However, it estimates that the real figure could be close to 20 to 30 million cases. Malaria remains a major health problem in South-East Asia, where 77 per cent of the population is at risk.