During a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees recently, Dr. Richard Feachem, who is the Director of GHG of the University of California San Francisco and the Chair of the Malaria Elimination Group (MEG) convened under GHG, congratulated the Government on its efforts to completely eliminate malaria.
“Two years without malaria cases is a huge achievement,” Dr. Feachem told the President. Sri Lanka has not had any local cases of malaria since October 2012. If the country can remain malaria-free for another year, it will be eligible to apply for malaria-free certification from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr. Feachem said Sri Lanka is the first country in Asia to eliminate malaria in about the last 30 years, since Singapore and Maldives did so in the early 1980s. A little more than a decade ago, in 2000, Sri Lanka had more than 100,000 cases of malaria. Even in 2012, there were as many as 60,000 reported cases. Government efforts in recent years have succeeded in bringing that number to zero.
President Rajapaksa said that although Sri Lanka has achieved this milestone, there needs to be continued vigilance because there is always a possibility for a resurgence of the disease as it has happened in the past. He also noted that a similar effort must now be put forth toward fighting dengue.
The Malaria Elimination Group (MEG) also stated that Sri Lanka’s achievement is particularly notable since it was achieved despite a conflict in the country, and that shows the Government’s commitment toward a healthy society.
MEG is an independent international advisory group on malaria elimination. Along with representatives from 17 countries, the Group met last week in Colombo to discus and learn from Sri Lanka’s success. At the end of this meeting, the Group signed the “Colombo Declaration on Eliminating Malaria” as a commitment to continue supporting efforts to prevent the disease from reemerging. (HC/SDF)