The World Health Organisation has called for a joint block by Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan to reduce incidence of malaria in Fata and Balochistan, both sharing 80 per cent of the nationwide cases of the disease.
“Strengthening cross-border collaboration among these bordering countries is an opportunity to reduce high level malaria in Fata and Balochistan. The reasons are poor living condition, internal conflict, low literacy, population movement and bad environmental situation,” Dr Mohammad Assai Ardakani, WHO representative in Pakistan, told a ceremony here on Monday. The ceremony was held in connection with World Malaria Day.
He said that both the regions had deep impact on the national malaria prevention control scenario. He added that it was matter of concern and collective efforts were required to fight the mosquitoes-born ailment.
“We can use Iran’s experience of integrated district health system, which has played significant role in malaria control,” said Dr Ardakani. He said that 10 of the 66 high-risk districts were in Balochistan. He added that commitment at political and community level was key to safeguard people from malaria that caused high grade fever and shivering etc.
WHO representative says collaboration among neighbouring countries to reduce high level malaria in Fata and Balochistan
“We need to scale up public access to tools for prevention and treatment with follow-up checks facilities at grassroots level.
This year theme is End Malaria for Good and let’s end it from Pakistan,” said Dr Ardakani.
He stressed the need for collaboration among health, water and sanitation, local government, municipalities and community with focus on at risk population, especially women, children and elderly people.
Dr Ardakani said that the world health agency provided technical assistance in prevention and control of curable disease. He said that focus should be on elimination of stagnant water pools, breeding sites for mosquitoes, in collaboration with local community.
“I have seen hardworking Pakhtun women in a successful project in Nowshera district in the past and I hope that involvement of community should be at the centre stage regarding malaria,” he said.
Dr Jawad Habib, director health services, termed financial constraints and destroyed social fabric hindrance in controlling the disease and said that health sector received only seven per cent of the annual budget of Fata.
He said that important areas of monitoring and evaluation weren’t up to the desired level. He said that procedural delay in procurements for health was time consuming and cumbersome.
Dr Sadiq Shah said that Fata recorded 83,336 cases of malaria with annual parasite incidence of 15.84 per cent, highest in the country in 2016, mainly due to proximity with Afghanistan, migration of local communities and damaged and non-functional health facilities.
He said that the parasitic disease affected 1.6 million people every year worldwide and accounted for 22 per cent of the diseases’ burden in eastern Mediterranean Region.
“Malaria killed 420,000 people of the 22 million newly-infected patients in 2015. One child dies every two minutes of it,” said Dr Shah, quoting World Malaria Report 2016. He said that they planned to ensure availability of facilities for prompt diagnosis and treatment of the affected population.
Dr Salim Marwat and WHO’s head for Fata and KP Dr Saeed Akbar Khan were also present on the occasion.
Noran Shah Toofan recited his hilarious poem about mosquitoes that filled the air with laughter.
Bureau Report. Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan asked to join hands against malaria. Dawn, April 25, 2017.