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From Agence France Presse


24 million hit by malaria in Bangladesh: WHO

BYLINE: Business Day (South Africa) - by Richard Tren

DATELINE: September 09, 1999 08:48 GMT - Dhaka

Agence France Presse An estimated 24 million people in Bangladesh are affected by malaria and defences against the mosquito-borne disease need to be strengthened, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report said here Thursday.

The WHO report said after nearly eradicating the disease in Bangladesh in the 1980s, it had taken a foothold again here during the last decade.

WHO officials are meeting in Dhaka for a six-day Asia health conference.

The body's report said the majority of the cases were reported from 13 out of Bangladesh's 64 districts, but the worst affected areas were hilly and forest districts sharing borders with India and Myanmar.

"The northeast border with India is considered at highest risk," the WHO conference paper said.

It added that the country's "capacity to predict, detect and alert a rapid response to malaria epidemics needs to be strengthened."

The report said Bangladesh, which has a population of 120 million, "faces many challenges with the need of strengthening the control system against the disease".

The WHO launched its "Roll Back Malaria" programme about a year ago in its bid to significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality rates caused by the disease.

The UN agency also identified malaria as "the single most important cause of poverty" in some countries of the world, with southeastern Bangladesh hill tracts among them.

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