Viet Nam ready to eliminate malaria

Press release

Viet Nam has had remarkable success in malaria control, and is now ready to progress from a strategy of malaria control to malaria elimination according to a report of international malaria experts which will be launched in Hanoi.

On the occasion of World Malaria Day 25 April, on 24 April, the World Health Organization in collaboration with the National Institute of Malaria, Parasitology and Entomology (NIMPE) of Viet Nam is organizing the Workshop on Strengthening Investment to Maintain Achievement and towards Elimination of Malaria in Viet Nam.

International malaria experts have noted that malaria cases in Viet Nam have decreased steeply due the successful efforts of the Government of Viet Nam over the past decades. In order to maintain these achievements and overcome new challenges in malaria elimination, such as the emergence of multi-drug resistant malaria in Viet Nam, the Government and international partners should re-affirm their commitment to malaria elimination.

WHO\Yoshi Shimizu

With more than 40 provinces now malaria-free, Viet Nam has achieved all of the targets set out in the 2011-2020 National Strategy for Malaria Control and Elimination and is among 44 countries with less than 10,000 cases of malaria per year in 2016. The country has changed its approach from malaria control to malaria elimination, with an aim to eliminate malaria by 2030.

“Viet Nam has made remarkable achievements in the fight against malaria in the past decade,” said Dr. Kidong Park, WHO representative in Viet Nam. “Eliminating malaria by 2030 is an achievable goal for the country, as long as there is strong commitment by the Government and partners to mobilize resources and identify new tools for elimination.”

“We appreciate the recommendations by the panel of international experts in malaria as mentioned in the National Malaria Programme Review – Viet Nam 2018,” said Associate Professor Dr. Tran Thanh Duong, Director of NIMPE. “The recommendations will help inform our policies and assist us in achieving malaria elimination in Viet Nam”.

International partners such as the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria have been providing support for malaria elimination in Viet Nam through the Global Fund’s Regional Artemisinin Initiative grant. The grant aims to assist five Southeast Asian countries to expand malaria control efforts and eliminate the most deadly strain of malaria from the region.

Malaria has been controlled, but not everyone benefits equally

Though malaria incidences and deaths have reduced across the country, the malaria burden is still disproportionately affecting certain regions and populations. Particularly, malaria transmission is mostly concentrated in hilly, forested areas in southern and central provinces. Among these, Binh Phuoc is the most malaria affected province in the country with 1,352/4,548 cases in 2017. This is due to the increase in migrant workers who have limited access to health facilities, as well as high levels of resistance to anti-malarial drugs in the area.

Besides temporary migrants and seasonal workers, other groups at greatest risk of malaria include forest and forest-fringe inhabitants (commonly ethnic minority groups), and new forest settlers.

Multi-drug resistant malaria – a growing concern

The most effective anti-malarial drug currently available is artemisinin. However, artemisinin resistance, which was first detected in the Greater Mekong sub-region in 2008, is a growing concern for countries in the region including Cambodia, parts of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. The Strategy for malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong Sub-region 2015-2030 provides guidance for eliminating multi-drug resistant malaria in the region.

In Viet Nam, since 2008, WHO has collaborated with NIMPE and the Regional Institutes of Malaria, Parasitology and Entomology in Quy Nhon and Ho Chi Minh City to monitor malaria drug resistance and help prevent its spread with evidence-based interventions, including wide distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, which have proved to be an effective means of malaria control and continue to play a critical role in reducing malaria transmission.

WHO also supported the Government to develop the national containment plan for artemisinin resistance, which is in line with the guiding principles set out in the Global Plan for Artemisinin Resistance Containment in 2011.

Malaria by numbers: globally and in the region

More countries are advancing towards malaria elimination, with 44 countries having less than 10,000 cases in 2016, compared to 37 in 2010. Since 2010, six countries have been certified malaria-free (Armenia, Maldives, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and Turkmenistan) and several others are inching closer to this status.

However, in 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries, 5 million more than the 211 million cases reported in 2015. This marks a return to 2012 levels.

Malaria continues to claim a significant number of lives: in 2016, 445,000 people died from malaria globally, compared to 446,000 estimated deaths in 2015.

Children under 5 are particularly susceptible to malaria and account for 70% of the cases globally. The disease claims the life of a child every 2 minutes.

Urgent action is required to get the global fight against malaria back on track. That’s why WHO is calling for greater investment and expanded coverage of proven tools that prevent, diagnose and treat malaria.

For more information:

Ms Tran Thi Loan
Tel: +84 24 38 500 100
Fax: +84 24 37 265 519