These achievements were presented by the National Department of Health Malaria Program Manager, Leo Makita; PNG Institute of Medical Research Deputy Director, Dr Moses Laman; and National Department of Health Malaria Medical Officer, Dr Leonard Nawara, to over 100 medical practitioners and students at the University of Papua New Guinea’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences on 26 February.
“The team have come a long way in the first three years of this project. Together, laboratory staff and health care workers in Papua New Guinea have been working with specialists from PNG, Australia and China to strengthen malaria testing, diagnosis and monitoring in all 22 provinces,” said Makita.
“We are now asking for provinces and provincial health authorities to take the lead in prioritising and implementing malaria control activities to achieve our goal of malaria elimination by 2030.”
Malaria is a life-threatening disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Almost 90 percent of all malaria cases in the Pacific region are found in PNG. On average, more than a million suspected cases are seen at health facilities across the country every year.
The Australia-China-Papua New Guinea Pilot Cooperation on Malaria Control Project was introduced in January 2016 in support of PNG’s National Malaria Strategic Plan. This aims to improve the quality of malaria diagnosis and to pilot effective cooperation between the three countries.
Since 2016, the project has trained more than 300 Papua New Guinean health professionals in malaria testing and diagnosis, and over 50 laboratory technicians have been trained and certified to detect malaria using a microscope. These trainees have gone on to train and supervise other laboratory staff, doubling the number of certified microscope technicians across PNG and increasing the accuracy of malaria diagnosis to over 80 per cent.
The Central Public Health Laboratory has also established a malaria slide bank, with over 2,800 blood samples which are being used to train health care workers in malaria diagnosis with a microscope.
(National Department of Health Malaria Program Manager, Leo Makita, presenting the achievements of the trilateral malaria project)