Hard work is needed to reduce the cases."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Malaria is a major public health problem in most tropical countries, including Indonesia with five of its provinces still having high cases of this deadly disease.

Hundreds of people in the province of Papua, West Papua, East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and North Maluku are still at risk for malaria infection.

In the province of Papua alone, around 42.6 of every thousand people have suffered from malaria.

The highest rate was recorded by the regency of Keerom, where 317.18 of one thousand people have suffered from malaria, and Mimika stood second with 246.8 of one thousand people.

As part of the National Malaria Eradication Program, the Ministry of Health is determined to distribute 6.3 million mosquito nets in 2014 to prevent the spread of malaria by anopheles mosquitoes.

"A total of 3.6 million mosquito nets have been distributed so far, but we are going to distribute 6.3 million more this year," Health Ministrys Director General of Disease Control and Environmental Health Tjandra Yoga Aditama clarified here on Wednesday.

He added that besides mosquito nets, preventive measures were being taken by spraying 49,260 houses in 2013 and 47,966 houses in the previous year.

In Biak Numfor district, Papua, the local health department on Friday, marked the World Malaria Day by distributing free mosquito nets to the local community.

Biak Numfor Deputy District Head Thomas AE Ondy, while distributing the mosquito nets stated that World Malaria Day is commemorated every year on April 25 and is regarded as global efforts to control and eliminate the disease.

On the occasion, he called upon all public elements in the district to lead healthy lifestyles in their efforts to control the spread of malaria disease.

Meanwhile, "Movement Against Malaria" committee spokesman Ruslan pointed out that the annual parasite incident of malaria in Biak Numfor district remained high, at 46 per one thousand people.

"It means, out of every one thousand people in Biak, 46 are malaria positive, and therefore we call upon the people here to exercise their habit of using mosquito net all the time," Ruslan asserted.

He explained that people should continue to prevent malaria from spreading by leading a healthy lifestyle and by always cleaning up the mosquito breeding grounds.

During her visit to Mimika district in Papua last week, Health Minister Dr Nafsiah Mboi praised the seriousness of the district administration to eradicate malaria.

The minister noted at the time that currently there were 200 districts in Indonesia that were already free of malaria and 117 others were still expected to be declared free of the disease.

"Hard work is needed to reduce the cases," the minister stressed, adding that it should not be too difficult to carry out the program to free Mimika of the disease as the PHMC of PT Freeport Indonesia already has long experience fighting malaria in Kuala Kencana and areas around it.

She added that eradication of malaria had to be carried out from upstream to downstream, by maintaining a healthy environment, killing mosquito larva through fogging and with abate, regular blood tests and the use of mosquito nets.

The minister lauded the policy of Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, who set aside 15 percent of the funds for Papua Special Autonomy to finance health programs.

"If that program could be fully implemented, there should be substantially large amounts of funds available for health sector development in Papua," she explained.

Meanwhile, Mimika acting district head Ausilius You stated that the district was set to be free from malaria in 2018, or earlier than the previously set target of 2028.

Ausilius, however, noted that support from all public elements and other institutions were needed to eradicate malaria, which was still a common disease in the district.

Malaria is transferred and spread by anopheles mosquitoes.

Ausilius indicated that he had invited the Department of Public Health & Malaria Control (PHMC) of PT Freeport Indonesia, the district health service and other related agencies to discuss ways of accelerating efforts to eradicate the disease in Mimika.

PT Freeport Indonesia is an Indonesian unit of the US mining giant Freeport McMoRun Copper & Gold operating large copper and gold mines in Papua.

"According to the districts strategic plan, Mimika could be free of malaria only in 2028, but I want the time target set earlier. Before the National Sports Week is held in Papua in 2020, Mimika should be free from the disease," he asserted.

Meanwhile, head of Mimika district health service Ibrahim Iba stated that in a bid to cope with malaria in Mimika, the health service will launch a week long campaign to educate the people on the use of mosquito nets.

According to him, the health service has procured tens of thousands of mosquito nets sprayed with insecticides for the use of the local people.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria remains one of the worlds biggest health challenges that has killed more than 600 thousand people in 2012.

Therefore, April 25 has been named as World Malaria Day, to remind the public and the world that malaria is both preventable and curable. (*)

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2014