RI lauded for malaria elimination efforts

The Asia-Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) has praised Indonesia’s efforts to eliminate malaria, saying the country had made impressive progress in combating the disease. Last week, delegates from the 14 APMEN countries visited Sabang in Aceh to witness the elimination progress. The visit was part of the network’s annual meeting held in Bali from March 2 to 7.

“Everyone was extremely impressed. It’s dramatic progress. By 2015 or 2016, Aceh will be malaria free, and the rest of Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia will progressively eliminate malaria,” the meeting co-chair Richard Feachem, who is also director of Global Health Group and a professor of global health at the University of California, San Francisco, said on the sidelines of the meeting in Jimbaran. “Indonesia has been able to show us and teach us about rapid progress in malaria elimination. Many parts of Indonesia are already malaria free.”

He said a country’s success in eliminating malaria was dependent on malaria program capacity. Through training, workshops, research grants and fellowship programs facilitated by APMEN, each country can strengthen their technical skills to improve their national malaria programs. Aiming at eliminating malaria in the Asia-Pacific region, the network brings together 14 countries in the region to harness collective knowledge and the voices of affected countries to share best practices, identify critical evidence gaps, and advocate for eliminating the serious, life-threatening disease.

The 14 countries are Indonesia, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, North Korea, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam. “Indonesia has much to teach other countries in the region. We look forward to working together to achieve elimination in all APMEN countries,” Feachem added. Tjandra Yoga Aditama, director general for disease control and environmental health at the Health Ministry, said the success of malaria elimination was measured by the Annual Parasite Incidence (API), which is ideally below 1.

“Currently, the country’s average API still stands at 1.69, but has been significantly decreased from 4.68 in 1990 to 1.96 in 2010, and down to 1.75 in 2011 and to 1.69 in 2012,” he said, adding that most of the country’s areas — where 75 percent of its population live, had demonstrated an API below 1. The Health Ministry recorded some 300,000 cases of malaria each year. In 2011, the disease claimed 19 lives. Similar data from the ministry, which includes a map of malaria disease intensity across the archipelago, showed that the prevalence was still high in the eastern part of the country, particularly in Papua and Nusa Tenggara.

The ministry is targeting eliminating malaria in Java, Aceh and Riau by 2015, in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara by 2020, and in Papua, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara by 2030. In the Asia-Pacific, the number of cases has decreased significantly by 64 percent during the last decade, from 1,272,139 cases in 2000 to 455,479 cases in 2010, according to World Malaria Report 2011 issued by WHO. However, the region is facing a growing crisis of antimalarial drug resistance, which has been detected in Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The growth in drug resistance is partly driven by the distribution of counterfeit antimalarial drugs and human movement related to increasing trade in the region. Importation of malaria is another common issue faced by the region. The risk for malaria importation and new outbreaks greatly increases with migration. To make greater impacts in malaria elimination, APMEN’s priorities during the coming years are to reduce the spread and eliminate drug-resistant parasites, to increase the effectiveness of surveillance and response systems for malaria case detection and treatment, as well as ensuring financial and political support.

source : bali daily

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