Thailand poised to score victory over malaria

While the world continues to combat COVID-19, Thailand is quietly poised to achieve another important victory in public health: becoming malaria-free by 2024. The Ministry of Public Health announced last week that the Kingdom should be able to eradicate the deadly disease within two years.

As a tropical nation, Thailand is prone to malaria, although almost all cases occur in border regions which are remote and heavily forested. There is virtually no danger of contracting the disease, which is carried by mosquitos, in cities such as Bangkok or popular tourist destinations such as Phuket.

“Thailand has seen incredible progress against malaria over the past decade – with an 88 percent decline in malaria cases since 2012 and a 74.7 percent reduction in the number of villages with malaria transmission, the country is well on its way to reaching its goal of eliminating malaria by 2024,” the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative wrote on its website.

Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, Director-General of Thailand’s Department of Disease Control, said that the Kingdom had implemented an innovative, data-driven strategy to fight malaria that was producing excellent results.

Since 2017, Thailand has been using an integrated drug efficacy surveillance monitoring system which incorporates drug-resistance monitoring. It requires every patient who receives treatment to be monitored and followed up on to ensure the drugs are working.

This has given Thai researchers and public health workers the ability to immediately know where drug-resistant malaria has emerged and stop it in tracks.

If patients show resistance to the drugs, the drugs or types of treatment are changed. The result is that “every single person that gets malaria is treated, tracked and cured,” added the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative.

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