A forty-year-old soldier of Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) died of malaria on the eve of World Malaria Day on April 24 in Gelephu. This is the first reported malaria death in the country since 2013.

The death comes at the time when department of public health’s vector borne disease control programme is aiming to achieve zero malaria death and to eliminate locally transmitted malaria in the country.

Sarpang’s dzongkhag health officer, Tshering Penjor, said that according to the investigation, the soldier was under  observation at the medical inspection room since rapid test showed negative results for malaria.

“But when he did not recover, he was sent to Gelephu hospital where malaria was confirmed,” Tshering Penjor said. Following the man’s death, the hospital collected 152 blood samples from RBA soldiers. The tests are being conducted.

“We’ll soon conduct health education  in the colony,” said Tshering Penjor.

Deputy chief programme officer with the department of public health, Tobgyel, said awareness is being created and mass distribution of mosquito nets has begun.

On World Malaria Day, which was observed on April 25, Pemagatshel was declared a malaria-free dzongkhag. In 2016, 74 malaria cases were reported – 15 indigenous and 59 imported.

Yangchen C Rinzin