Sunday, July 29, 2012

Papua New Guinea casts wide net against malaria

Catherine Wilson in IPS: In Papua New Guinea, a Pacific Island nation located south of the equator, 90 percent of the population is at risk of malaria and 1.9 million cases are reported every year.  But, according to a recent medical study, a programme to distribute long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets to every district in the country has dramatically reduced malaria infections.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) claims half the world’s population is susceptible to the infectious disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite, with pregnant women, young children and people living with HIV/AIDS especially vulnerable.  In 2010 there were 216 million reported cases of malaria worldwide and 655,000 fatalities, representing a 25 percent drop in the mortality rate since 2000.

This progress, while still short of the global target of 50 percent mortality rate reduction, is attributed to the widespread use of insecticide treated bed nets, improved diagnosis and access to medicines. In Papua New Guinea, which accounts for 36 percent of all confirmed malaria cases in the Western Pacific region, prevention is vital, as mosquitoes quickly adapt to greater human mobility and higher recorded temperatures.

...In the meantime, the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), a partnership between the National Department of Health, Rotarians Against Malaria, Population Services International, OilSearch Health Foundation and the PNG Institute of Medical Research, is working to improve vector control strategies, including distribution of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs).

An LLIN is a mosquito net treated in a factory with insecticide, which repels or kills mosquitoes that come into contact with its surface. Each net has a life span of at least three years. The nets are most effective when used at night when the main malaria carrying mosquitoes are active, thus protecting people as they sleep....

Mosquito netting made into a tent, shot by malte, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

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