Study tour on Malaria Elimination for Bhutan Health Officials

Study tour on Malaria Elimination for Bhutan Health Officials

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To learn from success stories of malaria elimination in the island, eleven health officials from Bhutan visited Anti Malaria Campaign (AMC) of the Ministry of Health (MoH)-Sri Lanka from 4th to 8th of June 2018. This was a part of a learning process to achieve zero indigenous malaria cases in Bhutan by the end of 2018 in the process of achieving WHO certification by the end of 2020.

As per WHO’s request and with the approval of MoH of Sri Lanka, the tour was handled by the AMC and full cost of the study tour was borne by the Royal Government of Bhutan and GFATM.

Bhutan is a country located in the Indian boarder with reported 67 indigenous cases for the year 2017 and only 8 reported imported cases in June, 2018. They are in the verge of malaria elimination as Sri Lanka was in 2012. A few opportunities and challenges need to be addressed in near future for the target of malaria elimination. The objectives of the study tour was to study Sri Lanka’s cases on malaria elimination, challenges and ways to sustain the achievements, case management and other good practices.

It was learnt that the advocacy plays a main role in this process of malaria elimination. The importance of forming a Technical Support Group (TSG) and having meetings once in every two months was useful to receive independent critiques for sustaining the state of malaria elimination.

It was also studied that the case review meetings also play a big role where all reported cases will be monthly reviewed thoroughly in the presence of the all team members. For each and every reported case, parasitological surveillance, entomological surveillance and case investigation by AMC staff should have conducted on time and ensure that it is an imported cases and not an indigenous case.

Monthly meetings of 24 Regional Malaria Officers (RMO) with higher authorities of AMC and MoH also contributed massively in the process of malaria elimination. Each reported case was presented by the relevant RMO and discussed front of all the staff of AMC centrally and regionally.

A clear documentation and separate case files handling for each case was studied at AMC Head Quarters and Hambanthota RMO office. The need for cross matching of the central and regional data was emphasized in the process. Even merely a suspicious case of malaria had been thoroughly investigated during the period of elimination and thereafter.

The mechanism of screening for malaria in Bhutan is strengthened through the MoH and The Customs involvement where Sri Lanka needs to learn from them as well.

Sri Lanka is an island and it was benefited with no bordering countries where Bhutan is in risk due to geological location. A distinguished member of TSG, and who served as a Malariologist to WHO, Dr Kamini Mendis declared that the cross boarder collaboration is an effective method to overcome the challenge.