February 2, 2012 by Ted Purlain
According to a Bhutanese government report, the small, landlocked kingdom has virtually eliminated the incidence of malaria within its borders over the past 17 years.
The report, published by Bhutan’s Vector-borne Disease Control Program, revealed that Bhutan had one death related to the mosquito-borne illness in 2011. In 1994, there were approximately 40,000 malaria cases reported. By 2011, there were less than 200 cases confirmed, according to SciDev.net.
The VDCP lauded its successes in the face of a number of challenges that included difficult terrain, mudslides, poor road access to a large portion of the population and a constant influx of labor from India, where malaria remains endemic.
“Given these and other challenges, the recent success in reducing malaria incidence may contain lessons for other countries,” the report said, SciDev.net reports.
Bhutan is now considered to have almost achieved a zero transmission rate for indigenous cases, a remarkable feat for any country where malaria is prevalent.
“We target to eliminate malaria by 2016,” Thinley Yangzom, the chief program officer of the VDCP, said, SciDev.net reports.
Health officials in Bhutan credit malaria’s decline to improved access to diagnosis and treatment facilities, as well as the continued use of vector control programs.
Yangzom said that Bhutan and VDCP will remain vigilant. In the coming years, he expects malaria to spread into colder regions due to global warming.
“Climate change will definitely have an impact on malaria incidence in the future,” Yangzom said, according to SciDev.net.