A man is tested for malaria in Quang Nam Province. Photo: Hua Xuyen Huynh
Some 11.7 million people live in malaria endemic areas across Vietnam, mostly in the central and southeastern provinces, according to the World Health Organization.
The country, therefore, must "consolidate recent gains against malaria and accelerate efforts towards a malaria-free region," WHO said in a release marking the World Malaria Day on April 24.
“The government of Vietnam has realized that neighboring countries have a key role to play and that a malaria crisis in one country can quickly affect another,” said acting WHO Representative to Vietnam Jeffery Kobza.
“Cross-border collaboration with Vietnam’s neighboring countries is crucial to eliminate malaria.”
Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
According to WHO’s World Malaria Report 2014, Vietnam has decreased confirmed malaria cases by more than 75 percent between 2000 and 2013. In the same period, the number of deaths from malaria fell by more than 90 percent.
“Vietnam’s achievements are impressive. But translating these milestones into a long-term victory against malaria requires even more collaboration and focused strategies among WHO, governments, donors, civil society organizations and other partners,” Kobza said.
Malaria transmission in Vietnam disproportionately affects ethnic minorities and mobile and migrant populations and people staying overnight in the forest.
Globally, an estimated 3.2 billion people remain at risk of malaria infection, with 1.2 billion at high risk.
To address malaria multidrug resistance in Vietnam and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), WHO’s South-East Asian and Western Pacific Regions jointly with GMS countries and other stakeholders, drafted the GMS Malaria Elimination Strategy 2015–2030.
This strategy aims to hasten efforts to address drug resistance and malaria elimination in Vietnam and other GMS Member States, focusing on protecting at-risk populations especially vulnerable, mobile and migrant groups and indigenous populations, while preventing the spread of multidrug-resistant malaria.