In a remarkable public health achievement, Sri Lanka has been certified as malaria-free island country by World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to WHO, after Malaria cases soared in the 1970s and 80s, the country’s anti-Malaria campaign in the 1990s adjusted its strategy to intensively target the parasite in addition to targeting the mosquitoes.
Sri Lanka is the second country in the WHO Southeast Asia region to eliminate Malaria after Maldives.
“Sri Lanka’s achievement is truly remarkable. In the mid-20th century it was among the most malaria-affected countries, but now it is malaria-free. This is testament to the courage and vision of its leaders, and signifies the great leaps that can be made when targeted action is taken. It also demonstrates the importance of grass-roots community engagement and a whole-of-society approach when it comes to making dramatic public health gains,” WHO Regional Director, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh said.
Sri Lanka’s road to eliminating the mosquitoes was tough, and demanded well-calibrated, responsive policies. The change in strategy was unorthodox, but highly effective.
The adaptation and flexibility of strategies and support from key partners such as WHO and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria fast-tracked success.
By 2006, the country recorded less than 1000 cases of malaria per year, and since October 2012, the indigenous cases were down to zero. For the past three-and-a-half years, no locally transmitted cases have been recorded.
India accounts for 70 per cent of Malaria cases and 69 per cent Malaria deaths in the Southeast Asian region countries. At least 1.13 million cases were reported in the country last year.Dengue and Chikungunya are the other mosquito-borne diseases prevalent in India, with Delhi alone witnessing over 400 cases of Dengue and Chikungunya each.