Princess Astrid of Belgium, in her capacity as the special representative of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), has asked Indonesia to help provide greater commitment to global malaria control efforts.
The message was delivered during the princess’ meeting with Indonesia’s First Lady Ani Yudhoyono at the Presidential Palace on Friday.
“Malaria is serious problem because it targeting the most vulnerable; pregnant women and children,” she said.
Deputy Health Minister Ali Ghufron Mukti, who accompanied Ani in the meeting, said the level of Malaria prevalence in Indonesia was high, with about 2.6 per thousand citizens suffering from the disease.
In 2011, according to a statement by the ministry, there were 256,592 malaria cases in Indonesia.
“Indonesia remains at risk of malaria with approximately 80 percent of all districts and municipalities categorized as malaria-endemic regions and about 45 percent of the population living in malaria-risk areas,” Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said in the statement.
Astrid has served in her position of RBM special representative since 2007. The partnership is part of the UN’s global framework for action against malaria.
Her visit to Indonesia took place ahead of World Malaria Day on April 25.
Separately, The Health Ministry’s director general for disease control and environmental health, Tjandra Yoga Aditama, said on Friday that it needed to implement a holistic approach to combat malaria.
Without effective prevention, proper diagnosis and correct treatment, Indonesia will unlikely be able to achieve its target of completely eliminating malaria by 2030, he said.
“It is not easy to achieve total malaria elimination by 2030 because malaria is a vector-based disease, which means certain environmental conditions can help the growth of the vectors,” he told journalists on the sidelines of a meeting attended by visiting Special Representative to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, Princess Astrid of Belgium.
Given the different characteristics among regions, Tjandra said, the total malaria elimination could take place gradually.
In 2010, two provinces: Jakarta and Bali, eliminated malaria and became the first two regions freed from malaria. These are expected to be followed by Aceh, as well as Java and Riau Islands in 2015, as well as Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), Kalimantan and Sulawesi in 2020.
By 2030, eastern provinces East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), North Maluku, Maluku, Papua and West Papua are projected to be free from malaria.
“We still have quite a high prevalence of malaria cases in the eastern part of the country,” Tjandra said.
According to the 2010 Basic Health Research (Riskesdas), the point prevalence of malaria in Indonesia stands at 0.6 percent, making it the sixth biggest cause of death among infectious diseases.
To achieve the target, Tjandra said the government would focus on preventive measures, such as screening of pregnant women during antenatal care, mass blood survey (MBS)/mass fever survey (MFS), routinely distributing long-lasting insecticide nets in high endemic areas, and establishing malaria centers.
“We have developed malaria centers in six provinces — Bangka Belitung, Gorontalo, North Maluku, North Sumatra, Papua and West Papua — and will expand to other provinces,” he said.