Malaria remains one of the largest burdens of disease in PNG. It affects men, women, pregnant women and children every day, causing lost days at work and school, premature deaths, and loss of economic productivity for the country.
In 1957 Papua New Guinea (PNG) joined the Global Malaria Eradication Programme (MEP). The major strategy at the time consisted of indoor residual spraying of houses throughout most parts of the country except for the highlands region where there was no malaria and mass drug administration (MDA) using Chlroquine. It was the single biggest vertical programme within the National Department of Health (NDoH) and was managed through four regional malaria control units.
By the late 1970s it became clear that eradication would not be achieved. The Global MEP was abandoned, the national spraying programme wound down and MDA halted. Following a review of PNG’s Malaria Programme in 1975, spraying was limited to specific areas and responsibilities for implementing programme activities were integrated into the responsibilities of the provincial health services. Untreated bed nets were introduced for malaria control for the first time.
In 1983 NDoH-supported insecticide residual spraying (IRS) stopped altogether. A malaria control policy with the goals to reduce morbidity and mortality was developed and approved. In this plan period, PNG led the world with the launch of the first trial of insecticide treated bed nets (ITN) for malaria control (1986). This trial demonstrated the effects of ITNs both on mosquito populations and on the prevalence and incidence of P. falciparum malaria in children. This success was scaled up in 1989 to a national ITN programme. In most areas of the country ITNs now form the mainstay of malaria control, with 1.3 million ITNs distributed in the past five years through a combination of subsidized sales and community based mass distribution. In 1998 Rotary Against Malaria (RAM) was established in PNG and started importing mosquito nets and delivering them to provinces and districts at cost price.
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