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Public health staff’s crucial role in eliminating malaria from Sri Lanka: A testimony

30 September 2016

The fight against malaria; Samdudra Tharangani Gunawardena

On 5 September 2016, the World Health Organisation certified Sri Lanka as free from Malaria. This is the culmination of a 17 years effort to eradicate the disease and an achievement only made possible through a public health sector led campaign. While in 1999, 264,049 cases of Malaria were reported, since October 2012, no cases of indigenous malaria have been reported in Sri Lanka. There have been no deaths due to indigenous malaria since 2007 and all the cases reported since 2013 had been contracted overseas. The country achieved a stunning 99.9% reduction in the incidence of malaria from 1999 to 2011.

These achievements were possible due to the contribution of the Government run Anti-Malaria Campaign (AMC) and the dedication of its staff. Doctors, nurses, public health inspectors, medical laboratory technologists, AMC officers, and spraying teams are some of the key actors in this successful campaign, assisted by community groups and voluntary organizations. The extensive public-led health care system providing free health-care within easy access to all segments of the population is another major factors to this public health achievement.

Samudra Tharangani Gunawardena, infection control nurse at the government run Kandy Teaching Hospital, is a member of PSI's affiliated union Public Services United Nurses' Union (PSUNU). She tells us about the role of health staff in the elimination of malaria in Sri Lanka and reminds us that in order to reach a victory today, the battle has been fought persistently over the past decade and a half.

This is the culmination of a 17 years effort to eradicate the disease and an achievement only made possible through a public health sector led campaign.

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