Malaria cases in Afghanistan increased by 45% last year

Doctors on Sunday said that malaria cases rose by 45% in the past solar year – March 2022 to March 2023 – across the country, in yet another blow to the country’s already struggling health care sector.

According to doctors, 125,000 cases of malaria were reported in Afghanistan in 2022, including 1,600 cases in Herat, mostly in Enjil district and Herat city.

“Malaria cases were high last year, but fortunately, we did not have any deaths due to malaria in the last four years in Herat,” said Rahil Shah Iltaf, head of the malaria prevention department in Herat.

Doctors remain concerned about the lack of awareness among the people about the prevention of the disease and their reluctance to seek immediate medical attention when ill.

“The disease is transferred through mosquitoes from one person to another; therefore, there is a need to diagnose it quickly, and then take steps for treatment,” said Ahmad Ahmadi Nizhad, an infectious disease specialist.

A Taliban spokesman for the public health directorate in Herat, Mohammad Asif Karbir, said most of the cases that were reported in Herat were from neighboring Badghis province.

He said that 183 diagnostic centers for malaria are operative in Herat.

Lack of diagnosis facilities in west zone

Patients in Herat public hospital said that other hospitals in the west zone, including in Farah, lack the required facilities for diagnosing malaria cases.

Nargis who is suffering from malaria said there is an urgent need to raise awareness about the disease.

“When I went to the hospital in Farah, no one could diagnose my disease, and then I went to Herat where they diagnosed that I am suffering from malaria,” said Nargis. “Hygiene is not good in villages and I was infected with malaria.”

Health authorities also said that 90 percent of malaria cases were in southern provinces last year, especially in Zabul and Uruzgan provinces.