Imported malaria a major concern for Nepal

PHOTO: Imported malaria a major concern for Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal - While the risk of mosquito-borne infectious diseases has been diminishing, people bringing in malaria from outside the country becomes a public health threat.

Among the total cases of malaria diagnosed every year, half are caused by imported virulent strains.

Migrant populations from Surat and Gujrat of India and African countries have been a major carrier of the disease, according to the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division.

The EDCD says 48 per cent cases were imported among the 1,974 malaria detections in 2013. In 2004, their share was only 12 per cent. From 4,895 cases in the year, Malaria, however, is on the decline.

EDCD Director Dr Baburam Marasini said in some of the imported cases, the drugs used to treat malaria, artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), have not worked. Recently, the cocktail of drugs, ACTs, has been found ineffective in case of a patient in Kailali.

Dr Marasini said the lack of malarial check posts at the customs has also resulted in the increase in cases of imported malaria. During the malaria eradication programme run from 1958 to 1978, the government had several check posts for fever in major border areas which helped check the spread into the country.

Malaria is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes and is life threatening. While Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax-two most common parasites - are found in Nepal, the former is considered more dangerous. The first symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, chills and vomiting.