Malaria threat looms – Expert

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Persons with fever symptoms should not hesitate to inform the medical practitioner if he or she has a travel history to a malaria endemic country, Consultant Physician, National Hospital, Colombo, Dr. Upul Dissanayake said.

Addressing the Media at the Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) yesterday (20), Dr. Dissanayake said that with the increasing number of imported malaria cases, hospital and Anti Malaria Campaign (AMC) authorities observed a degree of reluctance, particularly among patients who had visited West Africa, to reveal even the fact that they had visited a malaria endemic country. Because fever is a symptom of dengue, chikungunya, and malaria, the patient should inform the doctor that he or she has travelled abroad.

Also the medical practitioner too should question as to whether the patient with fever had travelled to country where malaria was still a problem.

Deputy Director General Public Health-I Dr. M. Arnold said although Sri Lanka had eradicated the malaria parasite, the malaria mosquito was still present in Sri Lanka.

Therefore although patients being detected now were imported the possibility for a local spread of the mosquito borne disease was very high.

The Director of the AMC, Dr. Prasad Ranaweera noted that there had been 26 imported cases of malaria in 2021 while from the beginning of this year till the end of the second week of April, the country has seen 16 cases.

He lamented that by December this year the number of malaria cases may top 70.

He warned therefore that the AMC’s main challenge was to ensure that not even one imported case was missed out. The presence of the Anopheles malaria mosquito in the country would only help the disease to spread locally, the Director cautioned.  

BY Dilanthi Jayamanne