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Malaria Elimination Program in place in PNG

The Papua New Guinea National Department of Health (NDoH) Secretary Pascoe Kase signed a Certificate of Donation of Antimalarial Drugs on Friday, last week at National Health Headquarters in Port Moresby.

Department of Health in the Guangdong Province, China donated the gift valued at K160, 000.00 (50 thousand US dollars) while witnessed by health department staff and chinses officials.

Under the terms of the Certificate, the Bureau of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Guangdong Province of People’s Republic of China will donate 20,000 doses of the antimalarial drugs call; Artequick.

The active ingredient of Artequick is Artemisinin which is an organic compound derived from the Artemisia Annua Plant, which is commonly known as Sweet Wormwood or Qing Hao in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The plant has been used by the Chinese for at least 2,000 years to treat fevers, including Malaria. It is now used for this purpose in modern medicine. The antimalarial research team of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine have been researching the use of Artemisinin-based combination therapy to eliminate malaria.

The Director of Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong, Xuqingfeng Xuqingfeng advised that Artequick has been recognized as being effective in fighting malaria by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

“It (Artequick) was introduced in Comoros, which was a high malaria epidemic area in 2006 and succeeded in reducing deaths and illness in a short period,” Xuqingfeng said.

He claimed that ‘Seminars have been hosted in Kenya and other parts of Africa and the drug is demonstrated to be working well”.

“In Guangdong Province, we have eliminated malaria,” he said adding that Vietnam was now using the Artequick program to eliminate Malaria”.

Secretary Kase noted that within Papua New Guinea, Kiriwina Island of Milne bay Province is rolling out the Artequick program and the NDoH is watching the results closely. He further added that that Malaria remains responsible for one of the highest rates of death in the country and Artequick holds great hope for seeing a strong decline in this death rate.

Kase stated that “We are seeing good results in this trial, with up to 80-98% relief experienced on the island. The Department is looking to finalise its report on the trial and brief the government on recommended action as soon as possible.

The initiative taken on Kiriwin is an initial step taken to help the people of this country but the secretary wants to see it expand to other parts of the country once proven in this environment.

“I acknowledge the help and support Papua New Guinea receives from friends and partners in efforts to eliminate malaria throughout the country. We need to support these efforts where we can to stop any resurgence,” Kase said.

Photo:  Kase presented with symbol of the Sweet Wormwood plant where the Artequick is derived from Director Xuqingfeng/Supplied 

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