Possible malaria scenario looms [Archives:2008/1205/Local News]

November 6 2008

By: Ali Saeed
SANA'A, Nov. 3 ) Devastating health consequences including a possible malaria outbreak threaten the governorates of Hadramout and Shabwa as a result of the flash floods that wreaked havoc there last week following 30 hours of a continuous downpour.

World Health Organization (WHO) advisor Dr. Kamal Mustafa said, “[Floods] directly affect the situation of malaria, because stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which is the vector for the disease.” He explained that although the concerned areas are arid and semiarid and would usually be less prone to a malaria epidemic, the current situation could lead to a malaria outbreak.

According to Mustafa, people who have not been infected with malaria before are more likely to contract the disease, and this is the case of people in the devastated areas. The consequences could be tragic if health authorities do not take appropriate measures. The floods have created favorable breeding conditions for the parasite and, if their numbers increase -as expected, they will spread to a population who has not contracted the illness previously. Usually, when there is an outbreak of malaria, all persons in a designated area fall victim to the disease in equal measure. Addressing the response of the Ministry of Health and WHO, Mustafa said, “First, the ministry should provide the affected area with enough anti-malaria medicine, so anybody infected with malaria can be immediately treated. Second, it should fight the vector itself, so the disease does not spread among the population.”

The National Malaria Control Program headed by Dr. Adel Al-Jasari