Jamaica Opposition Spokesman on Health Dr. Ken Baugh says malaria could become endemic to Jamaica again, in light of the fact that Anopheles mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, have developed a resistance to the insecticide used to treat the pest.
Mr. Baugh, who is a medical doctor, warned that the mosquitoes could become resistant to Chloroquine and other drugs which have been used to treat the disease.
The Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that preliminary tests suggest there may be significant resistance of the Anopheles mosquitoes, to malathaion, the main insecticide used under the Malaria Prevention Programme.
Mr. Baugh, who served as Health Minister in the 1980s, said when malaria is endemic, it develops resistance to certain treatment.
“This is a shame (if malaria becomes endemic again) because it is only in a few countries that there has been reinfestation,” Dr. Baugh told The Gleaner yesterday.
Noting that malaria was eradicated in Jamaica decades ago, the Opposition Health Spokesman said the Health Ministry was negligent in having allowed surveillance and control to break down.
Last week, Health Minister Horace Dalley said he was expecting Jamaica, in short order, to be once again declared a non-endemic country for malaria.
On December 1, last year, the Health Ministry reported four cases of malaria in the areas of Trench Town, Delacree Park, Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town. The number has since spread to over 300. A majority of the cases have been treated.
Two consultants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, Georgia, were here earlier this week to assess the country’s response to malaria.
Dr. Eva Lewis-Fuller, acting head of the Malaria Prevention Programme, said she has received a report from the consultants but has not had a chance to go through it as yet. She promised to give an update next week.