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Continued success in malaria control Risk remains in hills and Cox’s Bazar

Despite continued success in malaria control from 2009 to 2013, the hill areas and Cox’s Bazar still remain risk zones for the disease. Of the total 57,480 patients diagnosed with malaria in 2014, some 55912 (97 per cent) contracted the infection in the hilly region and Cox’s Bazar district.

Experts revealed this information at a press conference today, on Thursday, at the MIS Bhaban at the office of the Directorate General of Health Services. Dr Jahirul Karim, deputy programme manager, Malaria Control Programme, presented the keynote paper at the event. The press conference was also attended, among others, by Professor Abul Khair Mohammad Shamsuzzaman, director, disease control, also line director, communicable disease control, MA Faiz, former director general of health services, Dr Ridwanur Rahman, head of the department, Medicine Department, Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, Dr Abu Naim Mohammad Sohel, evaluator, National Malaria Control Programme, and Dr Mohammad Moktadir Kabir, senior programme manager, BRAC Malaria Control Programme.

The National Malaria Control Programme and BRAC organised the press conference on the occasion of World Malaria Day due on April 25.

The speakers said in 2013 some 26,891 people were affected by malaria in the country of which 15 died. But the number of malaria infected patients rose in 2014 to 57,480 of which 45 died.

Dr Jahirul Karim attributed the increase in the number of patients mainly to the recurrent rainfalls in 2014 in the malaria-prone districts. He mentioned that 13 districts of the country are malaria-prone region which are: Sherpur, Mymensingh, Netrokona, Kurigram, Sylhet, Habiganj, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar, Chittagong, Khagrachhari, Rangamati, Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar.

Led by the government, 21 non-governmental organisations including BRAC are implementing the National Malaria Control Programme. The programme aims at to reduce the number of malaria infected patients as well deaths by 60 per cent within 2015. The programme also targets to completely eradicate the disease and deaths from malaria by 2020.

According to the keynote presentation, the main challenges in malaria control include climate change impacts, weak communication in the hilly regions, lack in coordination in malaria control activities among the neighbouring countries, shift in malaria vectors and uncontrolled cross-border travel.

The biggest challenge, however, is maintaining the continuity of malaria control activities. Risk of infection and death will rapidly increase if scarcity of fund occurs, said the speakers. The flow of an adequate fund should be in place so that the present success of the programme continues, the speakers stressed.

The National Malaria Control Programme, BRAC and other partner organisations will organise different activities to observe World Malaria Day 2015 on April 25. A special talk show on BTV will be aired, parades, folk song performances and discussion sessions will be arranged on the occasion.

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