CAIRO: A man from the governorate of Fayoum had contracted malaria, according to a Ministry of Health laboratory report released last week.
Mahmoud Mohamed Abdel Hafiz, 54, allegedly caught the disease in Sudan, said Hamdy Al-Sayed, chairman of the Doctors’ Syndicate.
The patient came back on March 10 already sick with malaria from Sudan, Al-Sayed said, adding that none of his relatives had caught the illness as checks conducted by the health ministry have tested negative.
Egyptians suffering from malaria, he added, catch it from other countries in Africa, not from Egypt.
“The disease is widespread in African countries, especially in Sudan, but it does not exist in Egypt, he said, emphasizing that Abdel Hafiz’s case is an isolated one that “does not indicate that a malaria epidemic is coming back to Egypt.
According to a 2008 World Health Organization (WHO) report on malaria in Egypt, malaria control achieved significant progress over the past decades, when malaria cases went down from about 85,000 cases in 1960 to 5,400 in 1970.
The report also said that in 1989 there was an outbreak of malaria in Egypt when 198 cases tested positive, and in 1995, there was another outbreak involving 808 cases all in Fayoum.
However, the number of malaria cases in Egypt tremendously decreased after 1995, as only four cases were reported in 1997. Since 1998 no malaria cases have occured in Egypt, according to the Malaria Control Program reports that WHO published on its website in 2008.
However, the report said, 23 cases of malaria were discovered in Egypt in 2005, but “all were imported from Sierra Leon and Sudan.
The WHO further stated that currently the main concern of the National Malaria Control Program in Egypt “is to prevent the proliferation of Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes [which are the main cause for Malaria] from entering Egyptian territory from Sudan along the shores of Lake Nasser.
Internationally, according to WHO statistics updated on March 2009, the malaria epidemic infects more than 500 million people every year and kills more than one million. About 3.3 billion people – half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. Every year, there are around 250 million malaria cases and 880,000 deaths.
The WHO says that malaria is harshest in Africa but the disease also afflicts Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and even parts of Europe.