World Health Organisation(WHO) declared Sri Lanka as malaria-free on Tuesday. The declaration brought a public health achievement in the country. WHO called it a “truly remarkable” achievement.
Sri Lanka as malaria-free country
SriLanka has become the second country in the UN health agency’s South-East Asia Region in this aspect. While, the first is Maldives.
“SriLanka’s achievement is truly striking. In the mid-20th century it was named among the most malaria-affected countries, but now it’s declared as malaria-free. This is an evidence to the courage and vision of its leaders. When an action is targeted, it signifies the great bounds that can be made. It also demonstrates the importance of a whole-of-society approach and grass-roots community engagement when it comes to making dramatic public health gains,” WHO Regional Director Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh said.
WHO added that the change in strategy was unusual, but highly effective. Mobile malaria clinics in high transmission areas meant that prompt and effective treatment could reduce the possibility of further transmission.
The battle against malaria-spreading mosquitoes has been tough in the island country. The country’s anti-malaria campaign improved its strategy to target the disease-spreading mosquitoes intensively after the gush in the number of malaria cases in the 1970’s and the 1980’s. And, the change in strategy proved to be very effective.
Sri Lanka’s actions
The government introduced mobile malaria clinics, which could particularly target the high transmission areas of the disease. And then it provides immediate and effective treatment to reduce the parasite reservoir and the possibility of further transmission of malaria in that area in future. The anti-malaria campaign conducted in the country also made a good use of effective communication, health education and community engagement to eradicate malaria from the country.
With improved strategies, by 2006, Sri Lanka registered less than 1,000 malaria cases per year and after October 2012, the number of cases in the country has become zero. To prevent the parasites from re-entering the country, the anti-malaria campaign is working with local and international partners.