MOH, the Government, including all the communities in the country have seen great impacts in the fight against malaria.
During a one-day dialogue, Acting Director General, Judith Melsul said there have been remarkable achievements over the past and current Global Fund Grants that the ministry has achieved.
One of which is the continuous downward trend of cases for the last 3 - 4 years back.
“Vanuatu has experienced drastic reductions in malaria incidence through concerted efforts guided by the National Malaria Strategic Plan (2015-2020) and earlier plans”
This leads to continuous malaria case reductions, with Tafea province declared malaria-free in November 2017. Roll-out of pre-elimination activities occurred in Torba and Shefa provinces, with intensified activities in other control provinces.
“In 2021, the Malaria Programme entered a new era under the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination (2021-2026).
“This elimination strategy presents ambitious goals and targets with the aim to eliminate malaria from Vanuatu by the end of 2026.
“These achievements have been made possible through widespread access to diagnosis by microscopy or rapid diagnostic test (RDT); highly effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT); high coverage with long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets (LLINs) in selected health zones based on stratification; widespread community engagement; surveillance and response; and intensive targeted technical assistance” Melsul stated.
Despite the achievements there were also challenges that the Ministry of Health has also gone through over the implementing years.
Progress against malaria in 2022 was constrained by a number of factors.
Covid-19 preparedness activities continued to be implemented in early 2022, with the first community outbreak reported in March 2022.
This led to widespread community lockdowns and domestic travel restrictions, with suspension of any health activities that were not related to Covid-19.
Human resources were re-allocated from the Programme to support vaccination, community engagement, surveillance, and repatriation/ quarantine operations. This drew on malaria programme staff time and led to the delay of some planned activities.
Now that the Ministry of Health are in another stage of developing the next Grant proposal for 2024- 2026 and be able to meet the Government malaria elimination priorities in the next funded 3 years ahead through the continuous funding support from Global fund /United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through Vanuatu Australian Health Partnership (VAHP), World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary Against Malaria (RAM), and the Vanuatu Government.
Photo supplied Caption: MOH officials with a representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP during a meeting in Port Vila.