The World Malaria Day was celebrated on 25th April, 2016 all over the world with the slogan of “End Malaria for Good”; Pakistan also observed this health event with commemoration from Directorate of Malaria Control in Islamabad. Director General appreciated the efforts of the National Roll Back Malaria Project in his speech on this day for halting malaria successfully. Pakistan has continuous international assistance in order to control malaria and under this assistance we received 75 million US Dollar from global fund during last five years. Government of Pakistan is also planning to integrate all vector borne disease control programs under single domain.
Al-Shifa School of Public Health conducted a community campaign on this day at BHU Kotha Kalan with coordination of Deputy District Officer Health Rawalpindi, Dr. Jabbar. The campaign was conducted with the help of BHU staff. The focus of this activity was to assess the community’s knowledge regarding malaria and challenges that hinder the practice of their knowledge.It was done through focus group discussion which is basically a qualitative tool.
The findings of this discussion were very interesting, most of the women who were part of the discussiondidn’t know the word “malaria”. However they do have knowledge about “Dengue Fever” and surprisingly they consider mosquito as a vector for Dengue. In another interview a female patient recorded her best knowledge for malaria but she denied any practice because she does not have any “child” at home, most of the community members contemplate children as possible victim of malaria.
Female participants knew about mosquito repellents but showed their concern for skin; they prefer other beauty creams which clearly shows either their lack of knowledge for mosquito repellents or poor advertisements of these repellents. A young girl told the interviewer that she wears full sleeves not because it keeps you away from mosquito but it is a religious obligation. Community also had ambiguity for the different ways of treatment of both diseases and they consider either painkillers or blood transfusion as treatment of malaria.
The community (especially the rural) is unable to distinguish Malaria from Dengue fever and it is basically due to intensive campaigns by Government of Punjab and other local NGOs against Dengue which is overwhelming Roll Back Malaria Program. Even the healthcare providers at Primary Healthcare Facilities are not much clearer about this difference.
If Government of Punjab and other organizations continue same approach it may waste all their efforts for achieving the targets of Pakistan’s Roll Back Malaria Program. The decisions by the government functionaries are usually a knee-jerk response as they respond to hue and cry and media shouting about the deaths of Dengue victims. The choice is not either one of it; it has to be both. The basic preventive measure with few exceptions are the same. Why not kill two birds with one stone!!