Combating malaria remains a priority in Tajikistan and Afghanistan

WHO/Tahmina Alimamedova

A cross-border malaria meeting was organized by the WHO Regional Office for Europe in collaboration with the governments of Tajikistan and Afghanistan in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on 7-8 May 2012.

The objectives of the meeting were:

  • to  review the current malaria situation and identify problems/constraints related to malaria elimination encountered in participating countries;
  • to discuss and agree on a strategy and implementation mechanisms for increased coordination of malaria elimination activities in participating countries, with special emphasis on border areas, and
  • to discuss and agree on joint action plans for the synchronization of malaria elimination activities and the practical modalities for regular exchange of information on malaria, particularly in border areas.

At the meeting, Dr Mirzoev, Deputy Minister of Health of Tajikistan, said: "I would like to highlight that the Republic of Tajikistan traditionally provides strong and political support to the programme against malaria, and the National Programme on malaria elimination, 2011-2015, was adopted by the Government in 2011. The fight against malaria is successful, but to achieve the stated goals requires additional financial support from the international community, particularly to strengthen cross-border collaboration and cooperation on malaria elimination between Tajikistan and Afghanistan in their border areas."

Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative/Head of Country Office in Tajikistan added: "No doubt, malaria is being stopped; in the past 15 years of intensive work in all malaria-affected countries it has been brought to such a level that interruption of malaria transmission has become a possible target. It should be noted that eliminating malaria in the border areas of Afghanistan and Tajikistan remains a priority."

Dr Mikhail Ejov, Programme Manager/Malaria and other Vector-Borne and Parasitic Diseases stated that “Despite the considerable impact of the regional elimination programme, the present situation in some border areas of countries belonging to the WHO European and Eastern Mediterranean Regions remains a concern. To address these problems by uniting and strengthening the efforts of all concerned parties, the two Regional Offices organized a series of cross-border meetings and activities starting from 2006, and a joint statement on malaria control and evaluation was endorsed by Tajikistan and Afghanistan along with WHO and the Global Fund in 2010”.

Background

Malaria is the most widespread tropical disease in the world and continues to threaten 40% of the world's population. Every year, malaria infects more than 500 million people; nearly one million of whom die from the disease. The heaviest burden falls in sub-Saharan Africa, but the disease also afflicts Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and some parts of Europe.

At present local cases of malaria continue to pose a challenge in 5 out of 53 Member States in the WHO European Region, namely Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Turkey and (due to a small-scale outbreak in 2011) Greece. 

Situation in Tajikistan

Obvious progress has been made in combating malaria in Tajikistan over the past 10 years. In 2009, local transmission of Plasmodium falciparum was interrupted, and the entire Region is now free of locally acquired cases of this type of malaria. In 2011, only 53 local cases of Plasmodium vivax were reported in Tajikistan.