Target of 50% cut in malaria cases being met

A target of less than 15,000 cases of malaria in Guyana was set by the Ministry of Health for 2007 and the results indicate that this target will be achieved, GINA stated.

Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy reflected on Guyana’s campaign and its achievements during the launch of malaria week at the North West Secondary School, Mabaruma, Region One, last Saturday.

It was launched under the theme ‘Expanding partnership in the fight against malaria’.

He was accompanied by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Hydar Ally and a team from the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO).

“As Guyana observes malaria day, we also celebrate great successes especially with the average 50 per cent reduction rate we have seen over the past year.” He said this meant that around 90,000 malaria cases had been eliminated.

Ramsammy commended the work of the Region One malaria committee and all public health workers for their efforts in the fight against the disease which has resulted in the region realising a reduction of 62 per cent.

Guyana has been at the forefront pioneering the fight against malaria and its efforts have been recognised by many other countries. Countries which did not have malaria before are now getting it and are asking for Guyana’s help to control the situation. “We have not been reluctant in doing this and are glad to share our knowledge and capabilities with countries such as the Bahamas and Jamaica and on more than one occasion too,” Ramsammy said.

Country Representative of PAHO, Dr. Kathleen Israel pledged the agency’s continued support in initiatives aimed at improving public health in Guyana.

“Guyana is not in this fight alone, we will always support this fight because the results are good and the people are enthusiastic. I want to encourage that if we are going to eliminate malaria, more partnerships need to be created to intensify the efforts because not only does malaria contribute significantly to the morbidity and mortality rates globally, it is also preventable and treatable,” Dr. Israel said.

Approximately one million cases of malaria are reported annually and one in every three persons is at risk of being infected in most countries of the Americas.

The success in Guyana’s malaria fight, according to Ramsammy, is attributable to the participation of international partners such as PAHO in implementing effective measures of control.

This includes the provision of preventative measures such as the use of chemically treated bed-nets and insect repellents especially in high risk areas. Medications and drugs are being provided to health facilities across Guyana.

The Ministry of Health has also strengthened its efforts to monitor malaria cases being reported in the regions. This is allowing more persons to be treated in less time and for faster response from the relevant agencies.

In the hinterland regions, methods of data collection are being upgraded by the use of computers which is also part of the quick response process.

Other regions have reported successes in the fight against malaria as well. Region Seven, which is one of the most vulnerable regions, is leading the way towards eliminating the disease. From 3,156 cases in 2006 this has been drastically reduced to 813 cases for the corresponding period this year. And Regions 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10 have also shown reductions in reported cases.

The two most common types of malaria affecting Guyana are falciparum with a decrease in number of infections from 7,476 in 2006 to 3,068 in 2007 and vivax with 8,592 cases in 2006 to 4,976 cases in 2007. Malariae and mixed infections are also present but are not pre-valent.

Malaria is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes from one person to the next. Persons who are infected experience symptoms similar to that of influenza including fever and aches.

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