Maldives holds regional record as malaria-free zone

The Maldives holds South-East Asia’s record for being malaria-free. Meanwhile, the region is falling behind as one-third of affected countries show signs of eliminating the vector-borne disease over the next ten years.

Dr Robert Newman, director of the Global Malaria Program of World Health Organisation (WHO) said malaria control has improved significantly. “The world has made remarkable progress with malaria control. Better diagnostic testing and surveillance has shown that there are countries eliminating malaria in all endemic regions of the world.”

Malaria affects 40 percent of the world population. While the Maldives had a volatile track record in the 1970s, peaking at 1100 cases in 1976, virtually no cases of local origins have been reported since 1984.

Director General of Health Services Dr. Ibrahim Yasir said the only malaria cases have involved foreigners or Maldivians who have traveled to regions where the disease is endemic.

“A few times a year a foreigner might come who has been infected elsewhere, or in a recent case a Maldivian boat capsized near Africa and those on board contracted malaria and were treated here,” he said.

Yasir noted that the interiors of transport vehicles coming from malaria-infected locations are sprayed with a disinfectant to prevent accidental importing of the bug.

Certain countries that share regular traffic with the Maldives are showing worrisome resistance to malaria elimination.

According to an article published by Times of India today, Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM)’s latest report says that high rates in India, Indonesia and Myanmar have kept South East Asia’s malaria report rate stable while other regions see a declining report rate.

RBM’s report compares 5,200,000 probable and confirmed cases of malaria in 2000 in India against 5,000,000 in 2010. A WHO fact sheet, however, notes that 2 million fewer cases of death due to malaria were reported for the same time period.

Sri Lanka and Korea are in the pre-elimination phase.

Malaria elimination – the deliberate prevention of mosquito-borne malaria transmission resulting in zero incidence of infection in a defined geographical area – was first attempted at large scale during the Global Malaria Eradication Program from 1955 to 1972.

WHO certified 20 countries as malaria-free during this time, however in the 30 years that followed efforts to control the disease deteriorated and only four countries were certified.

During the 1970s, the Maldives successfully eliminated the malaria-carrying mosquito. It continues to combat the dengue-carrying mosquito, however, and several outbreaks have claimed 11 lives this year, making 2011 the worst year on record for dengue fatalities.

Among the factors that prevent the elimination of malaria, dengue and other viral diseases is the over-use of antibiotics. At the 64th meeting of the Regional Committee for South-East Asia in September, members suggested that overuse of antibiotics was making diseases harder to treat.

In 2010, WHO introduced a program combatting the reflexive practice of prescribing anti-malarials to any child with a fever. “Anti-malarial treatment without diagnostic confirmation means poor care for patients. It masks other deadly childhood illnesses, wastes precious medicines, hastens the inevitable emergence of drug-resistant parasites and makes it impossible to know the actual burden of malaria.”

In a previous interview with Minivan News, ADK Chief Operating Officer Ahmed Jamsheed called antibiotics “the most misused drug in the Maldives,” and warned that the trend could put Maldivians more at risk for dengue fever and chikungunya, as well as viral diseases.


20 thoughts on “Maldives holds regional record as malaria-free zone”

  1. You will shortly be made aware that the Bill Gates foundation composed of some of the worlds top scientists,have almost designed a vaccine for to protect new born and youngsters against malaria.I believe it has been designed with Africa in mind,because of the uncountable numbers of child deaths out there.Of course,in due time,it will be available world-wide...

  2. Sounds like "I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot his deputy".... "we don't have malaria but we have dengue" !!!!

  3. Maldives may hold the regional record for malaria-free zone. But can we celebrate? Maldives has to battle so many other diseases (including mosquito as well as water-born)and health challenges. And even if we had to do some simple health check ups, we have to go overseas!

  4. Its good to eliminate it from soil of island nation of Maldives.One death this month due to dengue.Can health care service give a message to locals what is the plan to avoid dengue.Are we doing enough??

    There is no on going awarness program in any part of Maldives.

  5. Nonsense, who knows most of this high fever case which they suspect may be malaria,

  6. Azra, yes the glass is empty from time to time but the cellar is well-stocked. You must try harder to avoid reading back to front. It is "Wine and Pork Lover", not "Pork and Wine lover". Another way to beat your dyslexia is gauging my wine glass while standing on your head.

  7. oh, the irony! the intolerence of aethists and yet they accuse pple of faith of being intolerant!

  8. Indeed it is a record we can and we should acknowledge and perhaps even celebrate. Kudos to all of those who were behind the efforts to rid the country of the malaria causing mosquitoes in the 70s and 80s. But we certainly cant rest on our achievements. It is true that the health sector has not grown as much as some other sectors in the country. Some may even claim that we have gone backwards in terms of providing quality health care. Therefore, it is paramount that all the stakeholders starting from the individual to the highest levels of government and corporate society take result oriented action to address the issues we are currently facing. Malaria and some of the other communicable diseases maybe gone, but today we are facing new challenges and threats. The President announced a 25 million dollar loan to build a hospital in Addu only yesterday. I hope all that money will not be spent on the hospital, but a substantial amount of it be spent on capacity building. It is not well designed hospital buildings that provide quality health care, but well trained and qualified physicians, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners. We cant put our health issues on the back burner as only a healthy country can be a happy and a productive country.

  9. Healthcare, education and social harmony have all gone down the drain.

    Why? Because our current government cares less and less about domestic affairs with each passing day.

    What matters most to them are dabbling in geopolitics, consolidating the financial standing of their clans and warring with each other. We need a solution to this hodgepodge. We need a stable government that does not fight with the judiciary. We need a mentally stable President who can actually command some form of authority over his people.

  10. This is not something to be proud of now. Dengue is rather more dangerous than Malaria and Maldives seems to be not doing enough to control it. What a shame.Talk about something you eliminated two decades ago while ignoring the diseases you are failing to control in in the present days.

  11. This is in fact something to be v proud of.. malaria is a big killer, we've remained free of it.. let's celebrate it.. dengue is a killer, it's almost out of control.. let's work on it..

  12. nothing to brag about as we still cant properly care for just 400k people. 5 mil in india is just 0.3% of that country...

  13. Our public health sector really is nothing to be proud of now.

    However, the eradication of Malaria took place under coordinated programs initiated and organized by functional governments.

    Not a government consisting of children running around exacting revenge on their personal enemies by using government resources.

    I condemn the US and UK for supporting this government. This just goes to show that both those countries and their governing circles have lost sight of the goal of promoting democracy. All they do now is promote marketing agents who pretend to head a democracy while speaking abroad and blatantly abuse the rights of their citizens while at home.

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