An investment to fight malaria in Bhutan

World Malaria Day, April 25

To fight malaria and sensitize Bhutanese on risks, the Vector-borne Disease Control Program (VDCP) team in Gelephu is celebrating the World Health Day in a high risk community at Dekiling gewog under Sarpang Dzongkhag.

This year’s World Health Organization’s theme is ‘Invest in the future, Defeat malaria.’

The day was celebrated at Dekiling Lower Secondary School. A total of 600 people participated for event to create awareness on malaria. The event was held at the auditorium of Dekiling gewog where local community, students, sector heads, regional directors, all the Gups of 12 gewogs were present.

Last year, the day was observed at Gelephu School. Dekiling has seen a number of cases, therefore day is being celebrated at the place, said VDCP’s Chief Program Officer (CPO) Rinzin Namgay.

“Moreover, soon Dekiling and Jigmeling areas going to be industrial areas were many laborers are expected to come. As what we have heard from that more than 20, 000 laborers are expected to come which is why we thought the need to sensitize the local population,” he added.

VDCP’s Program officer Tobgyel who is handling the event said the day will discuss on how to carry out prevention programs.

Awareness program in the area like vector surveillance along the rivers to check on if there is any vector breeding sites are also being scheduled.

A quiz competition among four high schools under Sarpang Dzongkhag was conducted. “These days, malaria case has gone down and people tend to think that there won’t be such cases further and

they have become more of complacent but if we don’t come here, there might be a chance that the death might occur,” Program Officer Tobgyel said.

“That’s why we have called all the gups, sector heads, the dzongda and all the regional directors, so that we can create awareness through them and they guide the people. For instance, if a person has a fever , telling him to visit hospital because our surroundings do have mosquitos.”

The population residing in Dekiling area is considered to be at a higher risk of malaria because of porous borders, forest dense area and moreover with mosquito breeding sites.

The victims of two kidnap cases from this area were also tested malaria positive.

In other countries, more of children and pregnant women are two high risk groups whereas in Bhutan majority of the case are seen within 15-49 years of age groups (i.e. productive age group).

Occupation wise, farmers are found to be affected most with the likely reason to be their living style and spending most of their time in the fields during summer where they don’t have proper shelter and mosquito can easily bite them.

When it comes to gender, in Bhutan men are affected the most than women with 70% of the cases.

Last year, the country saw only 48 malaria cases, where only 16 were indigenous cases with two imported cases and rest were all non Bhutanese.

While this year, one indigenous case was registered.

We are asking people to invest some resources for malaria control and prevention so that we can defeat malaria, the program officer added.

“Though the cases have gone down, the risk population is increasing actually.”

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