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Early rain intensifies malaria threat
Malaria continues to kill people in Bangladesh as the mosquito-borne disease still remains a serious health hazard in hilly and bordering districts.
Last year, at least seven people died of malaria while 10,523 other people were infected with the disease, according to the government data.
The incidence of malaria was a bit lower in 2018 compared to 2017, when 13 people died and 29,247 people were infected.
But the officials of National Malaria Elimination Programme feared that the malaria incidence could increase this year because of early start of rain coupled with humid condition.
As rain began this year early, the incidence of malaria could increase this year, said Sanya Tahmina, director for communicable disease under Directorate General of Health Services.
She was speaking at an orientation meeting in Dhaka on Thursday on the eve of World Malaria Day 2019.
The World Malaria Day 2019 will be observed on April 25 in Bangladesh as elsewhere in the world. This year’s theme, ‘Zero malaria starts with me’, calls for engagement of all in elimination of malaria.
In 2014, at least 45 people died and 59,000 were infected with malaria in the country, which was highest since 2010. Experts said the early rain was one of the main reasons for the high number of malaria incidence in 2014.
The prevalence of malaria is high in 13 border districts, including the three districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts.
The malaria endemic districts include, Bandarban, Rangamati, Khagrachari, Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Habiganj, Moulvibazar, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Netrakona, Mymensingh, Sherpur and Kurigram.
According to the World Health Organisation, malaria is a public health problem in Bangladesh.
In 2007, the government’s National Malaria Elimination Programme, with grants from the Global Fund, intensified diagnostic and treatment services at community levels for early diagnosis and prompt treatment in the 13 endemic districts.
WHO said that the national activities reduced deaths though the incidence of malaria infection increased.
The national malaria programme faces challenges in providing treatment to the population residing in the remote areas, says a WHO report.
Durable mosquito nets coated with anti-mosquito drugs could save many from malaria infection, says the report.
Malaria elimination programme deputy manager MM Aktaruzzaman said that the malaria infection occurs mostly from May to September.
‘We have screening and medication facilities at 71 upazilas in the 13 districts, but many people cannot access our facilities due to communication problems in the difficult terrains of hill and the bordering districts,’ he said.