Vector-borne disease control programme on course towards elimination target by 2020

Health:  In the past five years, the regional referral hospital in Samdrupjongkhar recorded a drastic drop in malaria cases.

Records with the health facilities in Samdrupjongkhar show that from 60 malaria cases in 2006, it dropped to seven in 2012, and five last year.  The five cases were reported from Jomotsangkha dungkhag.  The hospital didn’t report any cases in 2013.  Not a single case has been reported so far this year.  No death from malaria has been recorded either.

Among the malaria patients, hospital authorities said, most were adults.  Health officials said the figures were complied from 11 basic health units and two hospitals in Samdrupjongkhar and Dewathang.

Although Samdrupjongkhar is listed as a malaria endemic zone, going by the trend of malaria cases, the vector-borne disease control programme seems to be well in line towards achieving their target of eliminating malaria by 2020.

Health officials said, although considered the peak season for malaria this time of the year, the hospital receives more than 20 people a day complaining of fever, but none of the patients tested positive for malaria.

District malaria supervisor Penden Dorji attributed the drop in malaria cases to control measures, like distribution of long lasting insecticide net after every three years, and the spraying of indoor residual spray (IRS) twice a year.  The vector borne disease control programme distributed about 11,000 nets in 2013 while 18,000 were handed out in 2006.

Penden Dorji said the residents could still avail mosquito nets anytime.  From 2006 to 2013, about 5,000  more nets were distributed to residents and in hotels. “The IRS helps control mosquitoes from developing a parasite,” he said. “Continuous monitoring and mass awareness campaign are also being continued.”

“Since it’s just the start of the peak season, we just hope that we won’t record any cases this year,” Penden Dorji said.  The five cases in 2014 from Jomotshangkha have been attributed to the porous border, owing to which malaria could have spread.

Health officials cautioned residents to be mindful of the extreme heat in monsoon, during which many refuse to use mosquito nets, while gewogs like Samrang and Langchenphu fall in the high endemic zone, because of the close proximity with India.

By Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar