Concerns about an outbreak in sections of Region 10 have been put to rest by officials of the Ministry of Health. This has reportedly been the direct result of a proactive response by the Ministry of Health, through its
Vector Control Services Unit. Following reports of an upsurge in malaria cases, a team, led by Vector Control Director, Dr. Reyaud Rahman, headed to the Region to investigate whether there was an outbreak.
The team had ventured to the localities of Mabura, 58 Miles and 47 Miles. The Ministry was alerted to the concerns by residents of the aforementioned communities who had earlier appealed for the Vector Control Services Unit to visit the area in order to ascertain whether the malaria-like symptoms being transmitted, particularly within the 58 Miles zone, was indeed malaria.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito.
The mosquito is said to be endemic in the mining Regions of One, Seven, Eight and Nine.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the symptoms of malaria include: fever and flu-like illness and can include shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also occur.
But according to Dr. Rahman, investigations have proved that those manifesting symptoms of the disease are those who would have ventured into mining areas, particularly in Region Eight. He noted that while it is not impossible for an outbreak to occur in Region 10, the Ministry was able to confirm that the current surge is the result of migratory cases.
He disclosed that “basically these were people living in 47 and 58 Miles, in Mabura, and most of them would have traversed there (Mahdia) for work, but they would have started getting sick after they came back home. We were able to figure this out after we went up there and assessed the situation for ourselves…they don’t have the transmission there at the moment,” the Vector Control Director explained.
“Some of them know that they came from the mining areas with malaria…they came from mining in Mahdia and some even came from Frenchman, but we need to ensure that a diagnostic system is in place,” said Dr. Rahman.
Moreover, he noted that a glaring need in 47 Miles, for instance, is for health personnel who have the capability to undertake Malaria Microscopy. But according to him, “the situation has pretty much been taken care of to some extent…we just need to have a person trained.”
He however revealed that already a health worker there has been identified for an intense six-week training programme in Malaria Microscopy in Georgetown. Another health worker at 57 Miles has already been trained to undertake Malaria Microscopy.
Also as part of the strategic plan to tackle the malaria cases, Dr. Rahman said that activities were streamlined including a refresher malaria course to ensure that the health workers at the Mabura Health Post are prepared to effectively deal with any patient who presents with symptoms of the disease.
“This is to ensure that diagnosis is of a high standard,” said Dr. Rahman as he went on to disclose that during the recent visit, health facilities, pregnant women and children under five were given Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) to ensure that they were protected from malaria.” He however noted that the treated bed nets also have the capability to safeguard the users from other vector-borne diseases.
As part of plans to sustain collaboration with Region 10, Dr. Rahman said that he will maintain a line of communication with the Regional Authorities so as to ensure the commitments made will be fulfilled.
Dr. Rahman had also earlier informed that a senior vector control officer from Georgetown is slated to visit the Region and it is expected that all participants from recent community meetings will gather in order to be further enlightened about vector control methods. There were also plans streamline fogging exercises in the Region too.
The Vector Control Services Unit has been working assiduously to reduce the prevalence of malaria. Over the past year approximately 150,000 individuals from mining communities were tested for malaria. And, according to Dr. Rahman, because of intensified efforts to tackle the disease over the past few years the cases of malaria have been slashed by more than half. A few years ago the number of malaria cases was more than 30,000.
Dr. Rahman is therefore optimistic that the ongoing vigilant efforts will see the cases being lowered to as little as 10,000 next year and according to him, “that is going to be a significant help to us as we work towards bringing malaria down to less than 1,000 cases in the next five years.”
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