Bhutan, which had earlier failed to meet targets for the elimination of malaria in 2018 and 2020, now aims to eliminate the disease by 2025, The Bhutan Live reported.
Bhutan’s Health Minister said that cross-border issues in the south especially during the COVID-19 pandemic have hampered the country’s progress to eliminate malaria.
In 2022, Bhutan recorded nine malaria cases. However, the ministry is analysing if those cases were from the community. Elimination of malaria does not imply total eradication of malaria, as per the news report.
According to the Health Minister, malaria elimination is achieved when the country does not report any indigenous or community cases. It means that the country could report imported malaria cases even if the country achieves elimination status, The Bhutan Live reported.
Bhutan Health minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that health officials are investigating every malaria case followed by contact tracing and a survey among others. The ministry has reportedly strengthened coordination with India in addition to intensifying measures to achieve the target.
“We also had a series of discussions of the cross border because malaria is sort of endemic in the south. Also, there are lots of cross-border issues with malaria. So, we have a good partnership with GoI in the elimination of malaria. So, to eliminate, all these activities also need to be intensified on both sides of the countries,” The Bhutan Live quoted Bhutan Health minister as saying.
Bhutan’s Health Minister noted that the country would be able to eliminate malaria quickly if people comply with the instructions given by the ministry, as per the news report. The minister called it important for everyone to take up individual responsibility for eliminating the disease.
“If people are compliant with what we are saying, then I think we would achieve very quickly. We tell them not to keep stagnant water, people keep stagnant water, and there’s the need to wear long sleeves but nobody listens,” The Bhutan Live quoted Bhutan’s health minister.
The minister further said, “If you have symptoms, you need to report but people don’t come. We are trying our best to make information available but at the same time, people will also have to follow.”
Bhutan has witnessed a significant drop in malaria cases with just 23 cases in 2021, The Bhutan Live reported. According to the Annual Health Bulletin of 2021, nine cases of malaria were reported within the community. (ANI)