Health Ministry to reintroduce roving teams to tackle malaria
– Minister Ramsammy
In its attempt to address the problem of malaria, which has been plaguing primarily hinterland communities, the Ministry of Health is currently seeking to put in place roving health teams that will be dedicated to addressing the situation.
This announcement was made by Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy.
And there were roving teams dedicated to the fight against malaria in the past, a tactic which was discontinued to some extent when the Ministry sought to integrate the malaria service into the regular health services.
“We have to go back to the system of roving where we had people who were only dedicated to the malaria problem.” At the moment there is a limited amount of workers that are dedicated to the malaria efforts, an amount which is currently not nearly enough.
Nonetheless, Minister Ramsammy said that the health sector has been able to keep the incidence of malaria to a manageable level over the past three years. Attaining this level of success was not done without challenges which even today exist in abundance.
According to the Minister, challenges have mounted over the years due to an increase in mining, forestry and other economic activities.
Mining, in particular, has increased in Regions Seven and Eight in recent years as compared to Region One and Nine. It was in Region Nine that mining activities had predominantly been undertaken.
However, the Ministry has been able to keep the malaria situation there stable at low levels. Nevertheless, close attention is still being paid to the Region.
In the recent past though, Regions One, Seven and Eight have had a reasonably high number of cases which were evidently caused by the increase in economic activities, Minister Ramsammy said.
The Ministry, he said, has been primarily battling the disease by distributing impregnated mosquito nets in the hinterland regions. More than 80,000 have been distributed the Minister said.
However, despite the massive numbers, there are yet persons who are failing to utilise the nets. He revealed that following a recent visit to Region Nine it was discovered that more than half of the people at mining camps are not using the impregnated bed nets.
There are some that are opting to use regular bed nets to ward off the vector borne disease. “We need people to follow our recommendations to use the nets…They must take every precaution because we can’t keep taking these nets to them every month. Doing this comes at a cost so we are doing as best as we can.”
According to the Minister, the Ministry this year will begin another round of net distribution, adding that the procurement of each impregnated net cost about US$10.
Meanwhile, the Minister attributed cases of malaria detected in Linden, Region Ten, to the movement of people. He said that Linden and other areas that are not usually plagued by malaria have come under threat, thus the need for the Ministry to maintain focus on several areas all at once. And to ensure that this measure is sustained there is a need for an increase in both human and financial resources, the Minister said.
The Ministry’s fight against malaria saw its prevalence being reduced to 38,000 in 2005. By the end of 2008, the impact was further decreased to 11,000.
There was minimal reduction last year, according to the Minister. He admitted that little headway has been made. Nonetheless, the Minister retains his belief that the Ministry will by 2012 be able to achieve an ambitious malaria level of no more than 8,000 cases.
But without the co-operation from citizens and without consistent efforts on the part of the Ministry of Health, there is a likelihood that the impact of the disease could sky-rocket, he speculated.
“Citizens must co-operate with us because at the moment we can’t send all of our health workers in the back dam. So people have to adhere to the advisories of the Ministry,” Minister Ramsammy insisted.