The Ministry of Health says that whilst malaria is not present in Fiji; the disease is imported by our nationals who have travelled to malarial countries and got bitten by the malarial vectors.
The Minister for Health, Dr Antonio Lalabalavu, highlighted this at the Asia Pacific Leader’s Conclave on Malaria Elimination 2023 Conference this morning.
Dr Lalabalavu said it has been a struggle for the Ministry in trying to keep Fiji malaria-free since it is one of the most tourist destinations in the Pacific and in flight and cargo ships continue to visit its shores frequently.
He said elimination recommendations include mass strategies applied to the entire population of a delimited geographical area, whether it is a village, a township or a district; targeted strategies applied to people at greater risk of infection than the general population and reactive strategies triggered in response to individual cases.
“In Fiji’s case, Environmental Health Officers are mandated to carry out vector surveillance and control throughout the year.”
“This exercise involves the collection of larval samples of mosquitoes for identification. While much emphasis is focused on dengue vectors, very little or no focus is done on the surveillance of anopheles mosquitoes or its larvae, since we don’t have the disease.”
The Ministry also highlighted that Fiji has legislations (Quarantine Act) which stipulates the means of prevention of malaria in Fiji.
He said Environment Health Officers (EHOs) are mandated to play the lead role in such prevention-while you travel into Fiji from malarious country, as soon as your plane stops at the aero bridge, the first officers that will enter the plane are our EHOs with their cans of spray, spraying inside the plane while passengers are still inside.
“The main aim of that exercise is to kill any malarial vector may accidentally jump into the plane and may have taken a free ride to Fiji and once this exercise is done, passengers are then allowed to disembark.”
The Ministry says this is also done to cargo or freight coming in from malarious ports, strict measures are also taken.