Monday, July 16, 2012

Laos - Medics bolster measures for malaria control

After malaria took the lives of seven people in Attapeu province between October 2011 and April 2012, staff from the Centre for Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology under the Ministry of Health and the provincial Health Department have teamed up to curb the incidence of malaria.

In addition to sourcing funding for public education on malaria, sleeping under a bed net that has been treated with insecticide is one of several ways to effectively prevent malaria.

Speaking at a meeting held in Attapeu province last week on sourcing funding to combat malaria, Centre Director Dr Bouasy Hongvanthong said there were various factors leading to outbreaks of the disease in the province.

Migrant workers from other provinces and neighbouring countries who come to work in Attapeu can carry the parasite a nd infect local people. In addition, in 2010, the province did not distribute mosquito nets that had been treated with insecticide that was effective in the long term. The nets they provided to the public had not been re-treated, and so were less likely to repel mosquitoes.

According to a survey conducted by the National Malaria Control Programme, the percentage of people using chemically treated bed nets was lower than the target figure of one net for every five people.

The Director of the Attapeu provincial Health Department said medical staff in the province had provided health education in the two malaria outbreak districts of Sanamxay and Phouvong. They also distributed posters on how to prevent malaria, which were put up in tourist areas, public parks and the general community to make sure everyone understood how they could ward off the disease.

These are just some of the issues that medical staff address when providing health education to local communities.

Local health volunteers who have trained with the National Malaria Control Programme are actively providing health education about malaria to make sure that everyone has access to important information and can change their behaviour.

The number of malaria infections in Laos fell from 5.5 per 1,000 people in 2001 to 2.79 per 1,000 people in 2011. Mortality rates have also declined, from 4.56 in every 100,000 people in 2001 to 0.26 per 100,000 people in 2011.

According to the World Health Organisation, in 2010 malaria caused an estimated 216 million illnesses and 655,000 deaths worldwide. It is estimated that about 3.3 billion people worldwide are still at risk of malaria infection each year.

Sleeping under insecticide treated mosquito nets is key to reducing the prevalence of malaria. At present, more than three million people who live in remote areas of Laos where the risk of contracting malaria is high are using treated mosquito nets to protect themselves.

Source: Vientiane Times

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