The Public Health Ministry’s, Vector Control Services (VCS) unit will be taking a more proactive role to reduce the mosquito-borne disease, malaria, in the hinterland regions.
A number of health workers from within Region Seven have already been trained in microscopy which will assist in early tracing and diagnosing of the disease.
This was highlighted at the “Malaria Day in the Americas” observance on Friday in Bartica, Region Seven. The annual event is observed on November 6, in all the countries of the Americas. The theme for this year’s observance is “End Malaria for Good”.
A team comprising officials of the VCS, Ministry of Public Health, and the Pan American Health Organisation, World Health Organisation’s (PAHO/WHO) Dr. Jean Alexandre travelled to Bartica to join with their health counterparts within that region to recognise this day.
Bartica was chosen for the launch and celebration of this day since it is recorded that this area has the highest rate of malaria cases among Guyana’s ‘moving’ population.
Malaria Coordinator, VCS, Dr. Quacy Grant remarked that for this year thus far, malaria rates in Region Seven have been fluctuating however, efforts have been made to ensure the numbers of cases decrease.
Grant outlined a number of activities that VCS will be involved in with an effort to fulfill this year’s Malaria Day in the Americas’ theme. Other measures are being put in place to ensure that the high number of cases within mining and logging areas is reduced. One of these measures is the training of regional health workers.
“Beginning from next year, and projecting onwards, we’d be looking at how we can build capacity, and we have started (the training) already with the assistance of PAHO/WHO of persons in the regions’ malaria programme,” Dr. Grant said.
Also community mapping is expected to be carried out, starting with Region Seven, in order to track the moving population, and the rates of detected malaria cases.
Mining and logging areas are prone to producing higher numbers of vector borne diseases because of the condition of the surroundings
which lend themselves as breeding sites for mosquitoes. However, miners and loggers who are numbered among the moving population of endemic regions, can contract malaria at any point in time.
Director of VCS, Dr. Horace Cox said, “We found that in Guyana we have a mining population of about 38, 000 people which we consider to be mobile population, which is a combination of both mining and logging. What we have discovered is in the mining setting, persons would dig the pits looking for gold, and they do all of these different things and create mosquito breeding sites.”
The VCS plans to further decentralise the malaria programme to effectively reach persons who are more likely to be infected with malaria in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine. Additionally, steps are being taken to intensify net distribution within these areas.
“We have tried this decentralisation in times past, and it wasn’t successful, but we are going at it again because we believe that strong regions will make a stronger central body… we cannot do the work in the regions, so if we have strong regional malaria teams it would mean that our work at VCS, at the central level would be much lighter,” Dr. Grant explained.
Regional malaria supervisor of Region Seven, Nathalie Griffith who was recognised by the Ministry for outstanding work done in the malaria programme pointed out, “We were able to do malaria smear around Bartica, at the hospital itself, treatment on a daily basis, also in the surrounding areas, and we were able to visit some of the interior locations through medical outreaches, (and) net distribution was done at the malaria department also in the mining areas.”
Guyana has been commemorating a National Malaria Day since November 6, 2003 which was the proposed date for the observance of Malaria Day in the Americas. This date coincides with the day when the presence of malaria parasites in the blood of patients with febrile symptoms was first detected by Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran in 1880.
Having made note of this, at the 27th Pan American Sanitary conference held in Washington, D.C in 2007, it was agreed upon by all countries of the Americas that November 6 will be recognised as Malaria Day in the Americas. (GINA)