Anti-Malaria awareness programs kick off | Sunday Observer

Anti-Malaria awareness programs kick off

23 April, 2023

Sri Lanka is often touted as a big success story when it comes to eradicating Malaria. The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016 declared the country free from Malaria. When the announcement was made, Dr Pedro L. Alonso, the Director of the WHO’s global Malaria program, called it “a big success story and an example for other countries.”

Fast forward to 2023, and the threat of the spread of Malaria isn’t entirely gone. The WHO in January, 2023 issued a vector alert for Sri Lanka. In their official communique, the organisation stated that Anopheles stephensi, considered an efficient vector of urban malaria has been found in African countries such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria as well as Yemen, and Sri Lanka.

Earlier this week Dr. Champa Aluthweera, Director of the Anti-Malaria campaign told the media that the risk of the spread of Malaria exists and that it was because of people with Malaria arriving from countries where the disease was widespread and prevalent.

In view of these developments, the Ministry of Health has decided to launch an anti-malaria awareness program to coincide with World Malaria Day which falls on April 25. The main objective of the campaign is to create awareness of the prevalence of Malaria and encourage those returning from countries where Malaria is prevalent to get tested, and abstain from donating blood within the first three years after returning from those countries.

The Ministry of Health stated that as of April 2023, 10 cases of Malaria have been confirmed in Sri Lanka. Out of which, nine are from the Colombo and Gampaha districts and one is a foreign tourist.

In 2022, 37 cases were reported, while in 2021, 26 cases were reported, in 2020 and 2019, 30 and 53 reported. The Ministry stated that out of the 10 cases found this year, all of them are those who had caught the disease from abroad and had returned to the country. The Ministry confirmed that there was “no local transmission in the country.”

In the communique, Dr Ranjith Batuwanthudawe from the Health Promotion Bureau stated that “even though Sri Lanka has eliminated the disease-causing parasite, the vector mosquito is still present. Therefore, there is a risk of reappearing the disease from a patient coming from abroad.”

The Ministry said that anyone returning from countries where Malaria is prevalent should get tested upon their return, after which they can get re-tested in 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Those who require more information can call 011 7 626 626 or log onto