Via WHO, a June 30 article: Lao PDR: Malaria outbreaks remain worrisome but progress is being made in response and control. Excerpt:
Recent years have witnessed a resurgence of malaria in several provinces of the Lao PDR, and the confirmation of artemisinin resistance has prompted the government to scale up efforts to contain artemisinin-resistant strains of the disease. Lao PDR is the fifth country in the Greater Mekong Subregion where artemisinin resistance has been confirmed.
Dr Bouasy Hongvanthong, Director of the Centre for Malaria Parasitology and Entomology (CMPE), underlined this at the technical consultation on improving access to malaria control services for migrant and mobile populations held in Hanoi, Viet Nam on 22 May 2014.
“Outbreaks have been happening since late 2011 in the southern provinces of Attapeu, Champasack, Saravan, Sekong, and Savannakhet, “ Dr Bouasy told the meeting. “Even though fewer malaria cases were detected in 2013 than in 2012, outbreaks continue in Saravan and Champasack. We cannot afford to be complacent.”
Between 2000 and 2010, Lao PDR significantly reduced its malaria burden and was on track to achieve the World Health Assembly target of cutting the malaria burden by 75% by 2015 . The number of annual malaria deaths was reduced from 350 to 24, while the number of confirmed cases was cut from around 75 000 cases to 30 000 cases in 2010.
However, in late 2011 malaria outbreaks began to flare up again mostly in Lao PDR’s southern provinces, with 17 deaths reported. In 2012, the disease killed 44 people, while in 2013 it took 28 lives.
“The sharp rise in cases and deaths is linked to migration patterns, with an increase in the number of people flocking to work in areas of large infrastructural development projects”, Dr. Bouasy pointed out.
“Artemisinin resistance is now confirmed in Champasack and Attapeu provinces and we are urgently developing an artemisinin resistance containment strategy.”
WHO, the European Union the Global Fund and USAID/PMI have provided emergency financial support to local authorities, the Ministry of Health and the non-governmental organization Health Poverty Action (HPA) to respond to the outbreaks in 2012 and 2013 in the affected provinces. In an intensive screening and treatment programme, using rapid diagnostic tests, 2500 villagers were confirmed to have malaria.
Also, 28 900 long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) and 6673 long-lasting insecticide treated hammock nets (LLIHNs) were distributed in Attapeu. In addition, 12 673 LLIHNs and 34 053 repellents were distributed in affected villages throughout the southern provinces, using pooled contributions from donors.
At the community level, 150 new village malaria workers were trained to carry out early diagnosis and treatment in villages in high-transmission areas, and indoor residual spraying (IRS) was carried out in 30 high-risk villages. Village health volunteers who provide primary health care services, including diagnosis and management of basic diseases, have been reactivated to carry out early diagnosis and treatment of malaria.