With the start of the wet season less than two months away, former Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan has described the resurgence of the mosquito-borne disease malaria as “worrying” due to flooding which occurs in central and south Trinidad every year.
Khan was commenting on World Malaria Day (WMD) 2018 observances themed: “Ready to beat Malaria.”
He observed that while Trinidad and Tobago has been relatively malaria free since 1965, he said the nation was witnessing a “re-emergence of this dreaded disease” as the Ministry of Health has reported 13 cases as of March 30, 2018.
He said the number of malaria cases has ranged between seven and 24 cases over the past ten years.
“This new development is worrying for a society that has constant issues with flooding, particularly in central and southern areas of Trinidad. Even though Malaria was said to be eradicated in 1965, because of our tropical conditions, vast swamplands and thickly forested areas, our environment is still an easy target for the importation of the female anopheles mosquito containing a plasmodium parasite that is then transmitted from one person to another by that infected mosquito,” he said.
“Therefore, its eradication should not be taken for granted.”
Khan said TT was able to begin to get ahead of the malaria problem when in 1944, the New York based Rockefeller Foundation came to Trinidad to begin testing for the anopheles mosquito utilizing Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known as DDT, which is a larvacide for the spraying of the mosquitoes.
“While we acknowledge the dangers malaria poses to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, we must emphasize the need for the population to do its part in preventing the spread of this disease. We can do so by getting rid of pools of stagnant water, clearing bushes from around houses and planting lemon grass which can all reduce the number of mosquitoes nearby,” he said.
“Do your part. Be responsible,” he said.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, people with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die.