The National, Friday 26th April 2013
THE number of malaria cases dropped by half a million in Papua New Gunea over four years ending in 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
During the period the reported cases dropped from 1.6 million in 2008 to 1.1 million in 2012, a significant drop, WHO’s country representative Dr William Adu-Krow said.
“The performance of the national malaria control programme (NMCP) and the support of partners have resulted in the reduction in reported incidence of clinical malaria in PNG from 1.6 million in 2008 to 1.1 million in 2012,” he said during the World Malaria Day commemoration at Hanuabada in Port Moresby yesterday.
“During the same period, the reported number of deaths was also reduced by a third from more than 600 to 431 in 2012.”
Adu-Krow said survey results from the PNG Institute of Medical Research had also indicated a significant reduction in malaria prevalence among the affected population from 18% to 17%.
With the good outcome of the efforts taken to control malaria, he urged the government and partners to sustain what they had gained through the NMCP.
He added that the sustenance of those gains would improve with the mobilisation of necessary resources.
“WHO and other partners need to work together to provide the necessary support to the NDOH (National Department of Health) to achieve its malaria-related targets,” Adu-Krow said.
“This strong commitment was evident in November last year when top level representatives from more than 30 countries, including PNG and 130 organisations in Asia and the Pacific and beyond, gathered in Sydney, Australia for ‘Malaria 2012, Saving Lives in the Asia Pacific’ organised by the Australian government.
As a result of that meeting, a consensus document was produced that summarised priority actions to achieve global and national malaria targets in the region. Each country was targeted with programmes.
One of the top priorities of the document was to address the threat of Artemisinin (malaria drug) resistance to Plasmodium falicaprum (parasite that causes malaria which is found mainly in the tropical and sub tropical regions) which has now been confirmed in the Greater Mekong sub region (Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Yunnan province in China).
“This is also the area where resistance to chloroquine and other anti-malarial drugs first emerged before it could spread to the rest of the world, resulting in excessive morbidity and mortality in affected countries.”
“The spread of artermisinin resistance will ultimately compromise the efficiency of Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) which are the mainstay effective anti-malarial treatment.”
Adu-Krow warned that PNG should intensify surveillance to detect any early deterioration of the ineffectiveness of ACTs.