Sixty years ago, Sri Lanka was one of the countries most affected by malaria; in September 2016, the World Health Organisation declared the country free of the disease. Dinitha Rathnayake charts the journey of a huge victory for public health.
Dinitha Rathnayake, a radio journalist based in Colombo, looks back over Sri Lanka’s long struggle with malaria. She speaks to people who lived through the 1980s health crisis as well as the doctors, health workers and officials who helped to eliminate the disease.
Mahieash Johnney, of Sri Lanka’s Red Cross, looks back to the 1930s, when more than 5m cases of malaria were reported in the country.
Dr HDB Herath, the director of Sri Lanka’s Anti-Malaria Campaign, talks about what was involved in tackling the disease, from the use of insecticides to early detection through mobile health clinics.
The AMC’s SR Jayanetti discusses how the unique conditions of different regions affected malaria transmission – and how understanding this was a big part of the battle in containing it.
Finally, looking ahead to the challenge of maintaining Sri Lanka’s malaria-free status, Dr Anula Wijesundere, who saw the epidemic at first hand as a consultant at Polonnaruwa hospital from 1986 to 1989, talks of the danger of complacency and the vital importance of early diagnosis,