Jan 21, 2016 News
– but declining trend remains consistent
About 8,000 cases of malaria were recorded by the Ministry of Public Health’s Vector Control Services Unit for the past year. But according to Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, who has been reviewing the tabulated figures, there might have been some under reporting of the recorded cases.
Based on his consideration of the data input into the malaria programme information system, Dr. Persaud has observed that there has thus far been under reporting of about 30 per cent. “There is an element of under reporting in some instances,” said the CMO who pointed out too that there were also instances of multiple reporting.
The multiple reporting, he explained, occurred because persons infected with malaria sought care at different health facilities. “Some persons got care in the interior and then when they came out here (coastland) they got care again. We have tried to put measures in place to resolve this,” said Dr. Persaud.
“So far for last year the figures tabulated puts the cases to about 7,000 to 8,000…Last year there were about 11,000 reported (but) it will probably be closer to about 10,000 (cases) but we are still in the process of compiling the 2015 data to get all the figures finalised before the end of February or there about,” the CMO disclosed.
According to him, in the past, following a review of the malaria data, there were more discrepancies. “The information that we presented included both the actual new malaria cases but it also included re-checks that were positive along the way so that factor has been corrected. Now what they do is report strictly on new cases and rechecks are reported differently…that might also account for the variations in the numbers,” Dr. Persaud said.
However, based on the review of the malaria situation since 2010, it is evident that there has been a downward trend, according to Dr. Persaud.
And this state of affairs has been substantiated by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) which usually collaborates with the Ministry to review the reported cases.
Through its Vector Control Services Unit, the Ministry has been advancing its malaria fight by distributing treated mosquito nets. Over the course of the past two years, Dr. Persaud said that more than 70,000 nets were distributed in many of the malaria endemic areas of Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine.
The CMO has also credited fervent sensitisation efforts with helping to bring down the malaria cases. “Most of the people in the (mining) camps are aware and at the early signs (of malaria) they are tested,” said Dr. Persaud.
He noted that the Ministry has been able to execute its malaria fighting tactics with the support of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Guyana Women Miners Association and other organisations and individuals. “Dealing with malaria is not a Ministry of Public Health effort alone but it is the collective effort of all the partners who have been supporting us and I think we never stopped to thank them all for contributing,” said Dr. Persaud as he added that “these gains are collectively all of our gains.”
And according to him, “we are hoping for that trend to continue.” He, however, noted that one of the biggest challenges in controlling the prevalence of malaria has been the development of new mining areas.
“Those have been the most troublesome ones for us in the malaria programme,” admitted Dr. Persaud, who pointed out that persons who are new to the mining areas are among the most vulnerable when malaria morbidity and mortality are considered.
“A young person who has just finished school and decides ‘I am going to make a quick buck in the back dam’, and they up and they go…because malaria isn’t present on the coast. They are not exposed to that germ. When they get in there and they get one attack, it could be very severe,” the CMO explained.
As such, he noted that the Ministry is relying heavily on education to help address such challenges. “We would like more people to use mosquito nets, use repellents and practice good sanitations around the (mining) camps to ensure that there is not much breeding sites for mosquitoes…” said Dr. Persaud.
He is moreover optimistic that education will help to ensure that the gains made are retained.
Malaria is a parasitic infection spread by the Anopheles mosquitoes. Its symptoms include: shaking chills that can range from moderate to severe; high fever, profuse sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting diarrhoea and anaemia.
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