Renu Kshetry

Kathmandu, February 10:

With concentration on 12 high risk districts since last year, the government has pinned all hopes on achieving the goal of decreasing morbidity rate due to malaria by half by 2010.

“Though the government has focused only 12 districts, malaria eradication programmes are being run in other districts as well,” said Dr Mahendra Bahadur Bista, director of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division. “Since around 70 per cent patients live there, concentration on these districts will help achieve the goals by 2010.” The government has set goals to reduce morbidity due to malaria by half by 2010 from base line levels of 2002.

The districts prioritised for malaria control are Jhapa, Morang and Ilam in eastern region, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sindhuli and Kavre in central, Nawalparasi in western, Bardia in mid-western and Kailali, Kanchanpur and Dadeldhura in the far-western region. Bista said the ECDC has also focused behavioural changes of the people by training them on use of natural repellent to protect them from mosquito, by providing the insecticide treatment bed nets, and by monitoring the programme. According to annual internal assessment of malaria and Kala-azar control activities 2003, there were around 50,000 clinically suspected malaria cases. And 15,000 patients were treated for Plasidium vivax, a common malaria. Out of the total around five to eight per cent were treated for severe malaria.

ECDC’s major means of controlling malaria are controlling epidemic of p falcifarum (severe malaria), giving continuity to the malaria control programmes, and monitoring and evaluating them.

“We are nearing our goals and with concentration on the high risk districts it seems possible within the time frame,” said Dr Hari Nath Acharya, spokesperson at the Ministry of Health. Acharya expressed the belief that the government would be able to achieve the goals.

Although malaria eradication programme was launched in 1958 with the objective of eradicating the disease in a limited period, the effort has yet to become a success due to various problems.