Children at highest risk for malaria in Tavoy Township
May 29, 2012
WCRP: In April 2012, the Mon National Health Care Committee (MNHC) and the Border Health Initiative found that malaria is affecting more children than adults in Tavoy Township, Tenasserim Region. They facilitated a health education program for early prevention and tested people for Malaria in 7 villages in Tavoy Township. The program provided education, checked blood samples for malaria, provided medicine, and explained how to prevent contracting malaria, dengue fever (DF), and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF).The program tested blood from 655 people from the 7 villages and found out that 106 people had PF (Plasmodium Falciparum) and 65 people had PV (Plasmodium Vivax). There are two strains of malaria, and the PF strain is stronger than PV. If PF virus easily travels to the brain and the patient can die.
“Of the 106 people with malaria, more than half were children. Many children and women are suffering from Malaria. We only treated a few men. In Tavoy Township, most people live or work on farms, paddy fields, or rubber and betel nut plantations. When they go to the farms they are at higher risk because they do not wear protective clothing and are often bit by mosquitoes. Every year during rainy season, most people get malaria and I think it’s because they do not know how to prevent malaria or how they get the disease,” said one health worker involved in the program.
The health worker added that when she asked the villagers where malaria comes from, the villagers did not know and she explained that she could see they had no knowledge about malaria. The parents have no education about malaria and do not know how to protect their children or themselves. Some people do not show symptoms of malaria but when she checked their blood, she saw the disease.
The Mon National Health Committee (MNHC) and the Border Health Initiative (BHI) provided medicine to the people who had malaria. Some villages have clinics but not enough medicine. In villages that do not have clinics, the villagers have to travel far to get treatment or pay a medic to deliver medicine in a backpack.
In one case, a 3 year old boy from Ka Own Guu village, near Three Pagodas Pass in the New Mon State Party (NMSP) controlled area, died from malaria in April 2012. Before his grandmother could take him to the hospital, the virus travelled to the child’s brain and he died.
The BHI and MNHC programs also provide medicine and education about malaria in NMSP controlled border areas such as Ka Own Guu village, Plaing Japan village, and Bleh Doon Phite villages which located in Three Pagodas Township, Karen State. The organizations say that each year during the rainy season people are at the highest risk for malaria.