Boosting human resources key to tackling malaria

Malaria is a disease without borders. In Timor- Leste, malaria thrives in coastal landscapes and forested areas and is endemic throughout this country. In an effort to tackle this situation, the country now has 62 staff working in the national malaria programme throughout the districts and sub-districts across Timor-Leste.

Staff within the programme are today equipped with the capacity to understand the factors which influence the way malaria is transmitted, to carry out proper malaria diagnosis and treatment and understand the methods necessary to control malaria including the proper management of the vector, which in this case is the mosquito.

“The control programme was challenged up until now due to a lack of human resources but today we are more confident that with these district and regional malaria officers and the assistants on board, we will have the basic tools to carry out an effective control programme,” said Dr Nelson Martin, Minister of Health.

There are about 143,000 to 214,000 malaria cases yearly claiming some 50 lives annually. Children under the age of five years and pregnant mothers are usually the victims to this disease.

Malaria is a preventable disease and sleeping under a long-lasting insecticidal net is one such way. It’s also completely curable but those on medication must complete the entire course in order to recover completely.

Malaria mosquitoes breed in stagnant or slow moving clean sun-lit water with vegetation. One of the major breeding places in the country, during the dry season, is man-made temporary dams built across streams to catch fish and prawns. Once these fish are caught, the temporary dams must be broken in order to allow water to flow so that mosquitoes do not have a suitable environment to breed.