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Chinese medical team helps control malaria in PNG

(People's Daily Online)    15:03, March 18, 2019

Kiriwina Island, an island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) long plagued by malaria, has almost eradicated the disease thanks to the efforts of a Chinese medical team.

Chinese doctors deliver the drug to the local residents. (Photo/China Youth Daily)

The team, sent by China’s Guangdong New South Group at the end of 2017, reduced the average malaria infection rate on the island from 18 percent to 0.31 percent in just half a month.

According to the World Health Organization, the country of Papua New Guinea faced the highest rate of malaria infection within the Asian Pacific region, with nearly 8 million people threatened by the disease.

However, the country has only 400 doctors, of which only 51 work outside its capital Port Moresby, which has placed more pressure on the malaria control work.

The Chinese medical team used a new type of medicine independently developed by China. It contains Artemisinin, discovered by Chinese scientist Tu Youyou, which can curb plasmodium activities and relieve the symptoms of malaria.

The medicine, which serves as a different approach from the traditional method of eradicating mosquitoes, can eliminate the infection and stop secondary transmission of the disease.

Reducing the rate of malaria infection was a difficult task due to the harsh living conditions on the island, with limited power and water. It took hours for the medical team to deliver medicine to Kiriwina by boat, and they often got sun-burnt on the journey, even with protective clothing on.

Fortunately, their hard work paid off. The infection rate on the island has now been maintained at 0.4 percent for a number of months, effectively eliminating the disease.

In Aug. 2018, an anti-malaria center was set up on the island under the joint efforts of China and PNG to further control the disease.

Philon Tivirari, a Papua New Guinean who often used to suffer from malaria, said he applied for a job at the center shortly after learning about the center's mission. “I think it’s very meaningful to work here,” he added.

Now, Kiriwina Island is planning to set up a memorial day called FEMSE (Fast Elimination of Malaria by Source Eradication) to commemorate the selfless assistance offered by the Chinese team. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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