Jakarta (ANTARA) - Health expert Prof. Tjandra Yoga Aditama from the University of Indonesia (UI) said that while the total number of malaria cases in Southeast Asia decreased in 2023, malaria cases in some countries increased.

"World Malaria Report 2023 data from the WHO shows that although there is an estimated 11.9 percent decrease in cases in the Southeast Asia region, in several countries, malaria cases actually increased, including in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand," he said on Thursday.

He said that malaria prevention and control strategies should be discussed at the 2024 National Working Meeting on Health (Rakerkesnas) on Thursday, April 25, which coincided with World Malaria Day.

The former WHO Southeast Asia director of infectious diseases said that the report also stated that India and Indonesia accounted for around 94 percent of deaths from malaria in the entire WHO region in Southeast Asia.

According to him, there are five types of parasites that can cause malaria, and two of them are plasmodium falciparum and plasmodium vivax, which pose the biggest threat to health.

"Malaria is transmitted through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquitoes," he noted.

He outlined five steps to prevent malaria that need to be taken in Indonesia: preventing mosquito bites, vector control, administering chemoprophylaxis, offering preventive chemotherapy, and using a malaria vaccine.

He also listed other important steps for malaria control, including strengthening the health system in eastern Indonesia and building partnerships through public-private partnership efforts.

Aditama said that malaria control in Indonesia and other countries depends on the investment available for the implementation of control measures.

He emphasized the importance of biological and environmental aspects in controlling malaria in Indonesia.

"This includes drug and insecticide resistance, integrated vector control, including mosquito nets, larvicide, indoor residual spray, and others, as well as anticipating and mitigating weather changes," he said.

Aditama added that strategies for eliminating malaria cases need to be adapted to local situations.

Some programs that can be implemented to control malaria include controlling the risk factors, conducting mass malaria medication (Momal) activities, carrying out receptivity mapping, and establishing a diagnosis and management network.

"Target setting must also be clear and firm," he said.

He expressed hope that the Rakerkesnas, which took place in Tangerang, Banten, on April 24 and 25, would produce plans for tackling malaria from various aspects.

"Hopefully, today's Rakerkesnas will produce important decisions regarding controlling malaria and various infectious diseases in our country," he said.

Since 2015, the WHO has declared 12 countries malaria-free, including the Maldives (2015), Sri Lanka (2016), Kyrgyzstan (2016), Paraguay (2018), Uzbekistan (2018), Argentina and Algeria (2019), El Salvador (2021), China (2021), Azerbaijan (2023), Tajikistan (2023), and Cabo Verde (2024).

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Translator: Andi Firdaus, Katriana
Editor: Anton Santoso
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