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3 Ways to Combat Malaria in Vietnam

Malaria in Vietnam
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Southeast Asian country of Vietnam has made significant strides in reducing malaria cases. In 2008, Vietnam recorded 11,355 malaria cases. In 2017, cases dropped to 4,548, a 60% decrease. Between 2008 and 2017, malaria-induced deaths decreased by 76%. With the appropriate measures in place, malaria in Vietnam can soon become a disease of the past.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a severe illness that transmits from mosquito bites of mosquitoes infected with the malaria parasite. Symptoms include fever, body aches, chills, nausea and vomiting. If untreated, malaria can be fatal. Vietnam is taking three crucial actions to combat malaria.

3 Actions to Combat Malaria in Vietnam

  1. Insecticide-Treated Mosquito Nets. Mosquitoes thrive in humidity and warm weather. In Vietnam, where tropical climate zones exist, it is essential to take deliberate actions to reduce the number of mosquitoes and mosquito bites in order to contain the spread of malaria. One can place Insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) over people’s beds while they sleep to shield them from insects. Insecticides that are safe for humans but toxic to mosquitoes and other insects coat the nets. These nets also repel mosquitoes, making mosquitoes less likely to get inside the home in the first place. The more households that own ITNs and use them correctly, the more likely that specific area will reduce the number of mosquitoes in the area, which would decrease malaria in Vietnam significantly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50% of community members must use ITNs to experience an apparent drop in the mosquito population. A study that the World Bank conducted found that the use of ITNs for children younger than 5 years old in Vietnam stood at 9.4% in 2011. This is an increase from the percentage in 2006, which stood at 5%. If the use of ITNs continues in Vietnam, the prevalence of malaria cases will sink lower and lower.
  2. Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapy (ACT). ACT is an effective form of treatment used in malaria patients. It has contributed significantly not only to decreasing malaria in Vietnam but globally. Health care practitioners administer artemisinin with a partner drug and the two drugs work in conjunction with one another. While artemisinin “quickly and drastically reduces the majority of malaria parasites,” the partner drug tackles any remaining parasites. Between 1991 and 2014, Vietnam experienced a sharp decline in malaria cases attributed to the use of ACT. During this period, ACT treatment use rose by 10% and Vietnam noted a 32.8% decrease in malaria cases. As of 2003, ACT is free for all ages in the public sector, making treatment widely available to many Vietnamese citizens.
  3. NIMPE. The National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology (NIMPE) is working to reduce malaria in Vietnam. The organization is based in Hanoi, Vietnam. Supervision teams travel to remote areas of the country where malaria is most prominent. In forested areas, people are more at risk of contracting malaria. In the early 2010s, about 50% of forest dwellers contracted malaria. Researchers at the NIMPE study microscopic analysis for the detection of malaria in certain areas. This is a crucial step in reducing cases. Sometimes, rapid diagnostic tests that citizens receive fail to pick up traces of malaria, even if the person has been infected with the sickness. Microscopic analyses provide a clearer picture of how many malaria cases are actively present. According to a senior technician from the Epidemiology Department of the NIMPE, Vu Thi Anh Tuyet, communication and awareness of malaria in Vietnamese communities is incredibly effective in fighting malaria. From 2018 to 2021, cases of malaria in Vietnam decreased by a staggering 90%.

Looking Ahead

Efforts continue with the aim to combat malaria in Vietnam. The country has made remarkable progress in reducing cases and deaths over the years. By recognizing and treating the disease, fewer infections will occur in the first place and Vietnam will have more productive citizens in good health to contribute to the economy.

Megan Quinn
Photo: Flickr