Free malaria diagnostic and therapeutic services to greenhouse Afghan workers in JiroftSep 26, 2016
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the national malaria program is at the stage of pre-elimination of malaria therefore early malaria diagnosis is an important aspect of the national malaria elimination program of the country especially in the southeast of the country where re-introduction of malaria is at high risk due to population movements. In this region, this population movement is almost entirely by the Afghan people who travel back-and-forth to Afghanistan on a regular basis.
Greenhouse cultivation in the southern region of Kerman province is about 1,480 hectares with highest density in Jiroft and Anbar-Abad districts with over 68% and 23% respectively
Due to the low wages for cultivation works, Afghan people who are either residents or seasonal workers carry out the majority of such work in most of these greenhouses. Since the areas covered by Jiroft University of Medical Sciences are prohibited areas, access to Afghans for malaria screening is very difficult.
However, during the cultivation season – which starts late August every year and lasts until May – there is a mobile team that conducts malaria screening for Afghans. But active case finding for seasonal Afghan workers who work on a daily basis and move locations constantly are very tricky. In addition, the owners and supervisors of greenhouses are also reluctant to cooperate since these Afghans are daily workers.
To overcome this challenge, the Health Deputy of Jiroft has dedicated a team for screening of Afghans and other refugees in green houses. The team members not only test all new comers with Rapid Diagnostic Test kits, but also provide information regarding malaria disease, symptoms and treatment to the workers and the owners/supervisors of green houses. This enables for the early identification of cases since whenever someone has any of the symptoms, the team is notified in order to immediately carry out the screening.