Kathmandu, April 25
World Malaria Day 2019 was marked with different awareness programmes across the country today.
The theme of this year’s World Malaria Day was ‘Zero Malaria starts with me’.
Nepal has set the target of making the country malaria-free by 2022 and to maintain it till 2025.
At a programme organised by Epidemiology and Disease Control Division in Kathmandu today, Director of EDCD Dr Bibek Kumar Lal said the number of people diagnosed with malaria had been declining in the last 10 years in the country.
Annual record of EDCD shows that 3,577 cases of malaria were recorded in fiscal 2008-09. At present, the number of cases has fallen to 1,187. “Positive progress was made in reducing the number of malaria patients, but we still face lots of challenges in bringing the number down to zero,” said Dr Lal. He added the number of indigenous cases of malaria was decreasing. However, cases of imported malaria were increasing in the country. In fiscal 2013-14, 585 imported malaria cases were recorded and that number has shot up to 630 in five years.
Sadly, none of the provinces in the country is free of malaria. As per records of 2017-18, there were 13 indigenous and 11 imported malaria cases in Province 1; 21 indigenous and 45 imported cases in Province 2; two indigenous and 24 imported cases in Province 3, and 12 indigenous and 24 imported cases in Gandaki Province.
The highest number of imported malaria cases was found in the Far-west Province, which recorded 164 cases of imported malaria compared to only 75 indigenous cases. In Karnali Province, there were 164 indigenous cases against 46 imported cases.
Dr Lal said in the eight months after August 2018, Mugu district reported the highest number of malaria patients. It has reported 168 people infected with malaria. Likewise, Kailali, Bajura, Kanchanpur, Banke, Kapilvastu, Surkhet, Bardia, Rupandehi and Baitadi are the top 10 districts, which reported the highest number of patients.
At the programme, World Health Organisation representative to Nepal Dr Jos Vandelaer said Nepal had made a lot of headway in reducing malaria. “Still, the country needs the last push to eliminate the disease,” said Dr Vandelaer, adding, “The government needs to invest more and implement planned strategies to eliminate the disease from the country by 2022.”
A version of this article appears in print on April 26, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.