Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's malaria case count is still the second highest in Asia after India despite a decline in cases by around 25 thousand in 2023 compared to the previous year, according to the Indonesian Health Ministry.

"Indonesia's number of malaria cases indeed stands among the highest in Asia, only behind India. The number declined to 418,546 cases in 2023 from 443,530 cases in 2022," the ministry's director of prevention and control of infectious diseases, Imran Pambudi, said in Jakarta on Thursday.

He cited the World Malaria Report 2023 of the World Health Organization, which shows that India and Indonesia still account for about 94 percent of total malaria deaths in the Southeast Asian region.

The number of malaria cases in Indonesia has shown an increasing trend in the last decade, Pambudi added and noted that the figure stood at just 217,025 in 2015.

He attributed the increase in detected cases to improvements in malaria registration and surveillance systems at hospitals and public health posts and also the success of "malaria cadres" in identifying a large number of cases in malaria hotspots.

"We conducted around three million (malaria) tests in 2023, with a special focus on endemic regions," he informed.

The official assured that the government's malaria program is on track, as reflected by the achievement of national malaria elimination targets in districts and cities.

"For instance, in 2023, we were aiming for malaria elimination in 385 districts and cities, but we managed to eliminate the disease in a total of 389 regions," he highlighted.

This year, he said, the government is targeting 405 regions, and it has successfully eliminated the disease in 393 districts and cities as of March.

He further said that the Health Ministry will continue to pursue total malaria elimination in regions with a low number of cases.

The government will need to exert greater efforts to eradicate malaria in endemic regions that are mostly located in Indonesia's eastern part, he noted.

According to Health Ministry data, as many as 369,119 cases out of the 418,546 cases registered last year were detected in the provinces of Papua, Central Papua, South Papua, and Papua Pegunungan, he said.

"Provinces in Papua and Nusa Tenggara regions have been the most significant contributors to Indonesia's malaria cases," he added.
Therefore, he said, the government is prioritizing malaria handling measures in Papua to accelerate the elimination of the disease.

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Translator: Andi F, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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