KEPALA BATAS: Penang is experiencing an urban malaria crisis following the influx of foreign nationals into the state’s various economic sectors.
State health director Dr Ma’arof Sudin said employers with foreign workers should provide information to the nearest district health office on their workers who come from malaria endemic countries.
“In fact, all foreign workers should undergo medical examinations including screening for malaria based on the policy set by the government for the foreign workers in Malaysia.
“Besides that, residents who live in or have a travel history to areas at risk of malaria or to malaria endemic countries should seek immediate treatment at the nearest clinic or hospital if they have symptoms like fever, chills, sweating and body weakness.
“Among the malaria endemic countries are Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Congo,” he said in his speech at the state-level World Malaria Day commemoration at the Setia Experience Centre, Bandar Setia Fontaines, here.
Ma’arof said the state health department was always taking precautionary measures, including active detection of cases, surveillance and control, and conducting health education programmes.
He said in addition to the control and prevention activities, other initiatives that had been taken were unique to Penang. These include the malaria control drain modification innovation, or environmental management method, to prevent the Anopheles mosquitoes from breeding.
The method has been introduced at Taman Botani and could be a referral source locally and internationally, Ma’arof said.
“In Malaysia, up to the 30th epidemiological week, 2022, the reported number of cumulative malaria cases was at 1,611, with 90.3% of zoonotic malaria infections caused by the Plasmodium knowlesi parasite spread to humans through host animals such as macaques.
“The other 9.7% were human malaria infection cases with 96% of these being imported cases that were detected in Malaysia,” he added.