By incorporating a wide range of ‘accelerator’ strategies Laos has been able to eliminate malaria considerably from its population, says a report from World Health Organization Laos.
The number of malaria infections in Laos surged in 1997 with about 462,000 infections but reduced to just 2,305 cases in 2022.
Thousands of deaths were reported, and tens of thousands suffered from the disease’s long-term impacts in 1997.
With the reduced number of malaria cases across the country, the Ministry of Health in Laos and its partners are now focusing on eliminating Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of the five malaria parasites, by the end of 2023.
“Malaria now only affects a small proportion of the population. Cases are found in just 10% of the country’s health facilities, across five of the country’s 18 provinces,” Dr. Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, Director General, Department of Communicable Diseases Control.
“However, these remaining pockets are almost entirely remote, extremely hard-to-reach communities. Communities that are now most impacted by malaria in Laos are ethnic minority groups.” Dr. Rattanaxay stated.
The minority groups in Laos live and work in forested areas where they are in close contact with malaria mosquito habitats and lack access to health services.
Laos also began breeding a new type of mosquito in 2022, the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes Aegypti) injected with Wolbachia bacteria, to control the spread of dengue fever in the country.
This assistance is made possible with financial support from The Global Fund – via the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) – as well as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.