December 8, 2022

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WHO to review Iran’s malaria elimination program

TEHRAN – The World Health Organization (WHO) will, by March 2023, dispatch a group of experts to Iran to review the malaria elimination program in the country, the head of the department of control and management of communicable diseases of the Ministry of Health, has said.

If the measures which have been taken to eliminate malaria meet the defined standards for obtaining an elimination certificate, we will receive this certificate, ISNA quoted Abdolreza Mir-Oliaei as saying on Saturday.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals; the disease is most commonly spread by an infected female Anopheles mosquito. The mosquito bite introduces the parasites from the mosquito’s saliva into a person’s blood.

If a country passes three years with no indigenous cases, the World Health Organization will grant it a certificate of malaria eradication. It causes symptoms that typically include fever, tiredness, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases, it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, or death. Symptoms usually begin ten to fifteen days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

If a country passes three years with no indigenous cases, the World Health Organization will grant it a certificate of malaria eradication.

Last year, 1,010 patients of malaria were identified in the country, none of whom were indigenous cases, he stated.

Currently, the provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, and the south of Kerman province, mainly in Jiroft city, are endemic areas of malaria, and in these areas, we have special conditions and instructions to eliminate the disease, he explained.

The main challenge of our country to eliminate malaria includes climate change and rising temperatures and the movement of foreign nationals from infected countries to Iran, and especially the movement from the land border of Pakistan to Sistan and Baluchistan, he lamented.

The disease diagnosis is being carefully implemented. In recent years, all the efforts of the Ministry of Health regarding the diagnosis and treatment of the disease and the management of the habitat of mosquito larvae have been favorable to a large extent, he noted.

The most important factor in malaria elimination is educating people to take self-care measures and improve environmental hygiene, Mir-Oliaei added.

Tedros Adhanom Director-General of the WHO praised Iran for controlling malaria, stating that Iran has not registered any native cases of malaria for three consecutive years.

There are about six species of Anopheles mosquitoes in Iran, of which there are no more than two or three species, which are actively involved in disease transmission in the south and southeast, and the rest are in the northern Zagros, from which there is no malaria transmission.

Although the most common route of transmission of malaria is mosquito bites, in rare cases there is a possibility of transmission through the use of shared syringes among injecting drug users.

According to WHO 2017 malaria report, the incidence rate of malaria in Iran has decreased significantly from 12,000 people in 2000 to 57 in 2017.

Between 2000 and 2014, the number of malaria-related deaths fell by 40 percent worldwide, from an estimated 743,000 to 446,000.

There are 20 countries in the world that are moving towards the elimination of malaria; in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Iran is at the forefront.

High share of global malaria burden

According to the latest World malaria report, released in December 2019, there were 228 million cases of malaria in 2018 compared to 231 million cases in 2017. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 405,000 in 2018, compared with 416,000 deaths in 2017.

The WHO African Region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2018, the region was home to 93% of malaria cases and 94% of malaria deaths.

In 2018, 6 countries accounted for more than half of all malaria cases worldwide: Nigeria (25%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), and Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, and Niger (4% each).

Children under 5 years of age are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2018, they accounted for 67% (272,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.


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