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Sri Lanka eliminated malaria – Rajitha

Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne chats with WHO Regional Director for South - East Asia Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh during the Ministerial Roundtable.

In 2008, the last case of indigenous malaria-related death was reported in Sri Lanka. The National Strategic Plan was developed with the aim of achieving malaria elimination within a time-bound framework to reach zero local transmission by 2014.

Since Sri Lanka was declared malaria-free on Sept. 5, the country has now emerged as an example of what is needed to eliminate malaria and what are the opportunities and challenges of malaria-free status, Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said while addressing the Ministerial Roundtable on Accelerating Elimination of Malaria in the South-East Asia Region on November 29 in New Delhi.

Minister Senaratne said that several key factors among many others such as the government commitment, dedication of health workers, highly technical and professional approach combined with the extremely effective surveillance system paved the way to reach the objectives two years ahead of the target year with the last case of locally transmitted case of malaria reported in 2012.

Minister Senaratne pointed out that the Government’s partnership with locally operating NGOs was an important factor which contributed to the successful control of malaria in conflict affected areas during the civil war. By 2000, Sri Lanka’s eight conflict affected districts accounted for most malaria infections.

Integrated vector control and treatment interventions were scaled up in the conflict affected districts by the AMC and the regional malaria teams, often in partnership with non-governmental organizations and the military. The rebels, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), to a great extent, supported the government’s efforts to control malaria in areas under their control which was a unique gesture not seen in many large scale conflict situations.

Minister Senaratne also said that with the ending of civil war in 2009, effective coverage of interventions was extended to cover the entire island paving way to the elimination of malaria from the island. Anti-Malaria Campaign and its regional teams got themselves re-oriented for the elimination of the disease according to the WHO guidelines for malaria elimination.