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MOH to increase efforts towards eliminating Malaria in Guyana

Training of miners to test and treat for malaria in remote settings. © Ministry of Health, Guyana

The Ministry of Health’s Vector Control Services have highlighted plans to intensify identification and treatment services for Malaria in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine towards the goal of eliminating malaria in Guyana by 2025.

As was the case almost everywhere in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic diverted personnel and resources from other health issues, including malaria.

Dr Horace Cox, Director of Vector Borne Diseases said Guyana represents about 3% of cases in the Americas.

The Vector Control Services Unit of the Ministry of Health plans to intensify efforts to combat malaria in Guyana as we head into 2023.

This is according to National Malaria Focal Point Dr. Kashana James.

“The programme is working along with the regions in terms of a microscopy refresher. Making sure that we have that capacity, not just at a central level but also at a regional level. We do tend to expand in what we call our micro-stratification process. We have started this in Region Seven and we’re hoping to reach out to the other endemic Regions.”

A scaled-up malaria response across the country aims for the elimination of Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) malaria in Guyana by 2025, and elimination of all malaria species by 2030.

She added there were 22,000 cases of Malaria diagnosed in Guyana as of 2021.

“Another big activity that we might have next year is whereby we do an efficacy study, testing to see if our drugs are still working as they should be working. We did this in 2018 and 2019 and we’re slated to have it next year as well.”

In an effort to build capacity at both a regional and community level, Microscopist Jason Frank says they will target highly populated communities within endemic areas.

“Some of our focus areas would be between Regions One to Seven and Region Eight. Places like Mahdia, Baramita and also Aroaima Mines. Those are some of the focus areas we’re looking into because we have most of the cases coming out from there.”

Dr. James highlighted that one of the major successes the unit has had is raising awareness of the importance of seeking testing and treatment, noting that in the past many Guyanese opted to try treating symptoms with ‘bush medicine.’

They have also been able to supply medicated nets free of cost to at risk communities.

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