April 25th 2023

World Malaria Day: A Malaria-Free Afghanistan


Malaria remains a significant public health concern in Afghanistan, particularly in eastern and southern provinces, with 60% of the nation's population living in endemic areas and nearly half a million cases per year. 

Largely a seasonal disease, the burden of malaria is great due to limited access to effective treatment and preventive measures and environmental factors such as stagnant water and poor sanitation.  

The Malaria Control Programme has been implemented in high-risk provinces of Laghman and Kunar provinces since April 2019. Here, we aim to reduce the number of cases by improving and scaling-up diagnosis, treatment and prevention measures, including the distribution of long-lasting insecticidal bed nets (LLINs) and antimalarial medication. Helping the community starts with training clinical staff and community health workers on malaria diagnosis and treatment. Through rapid diagnostics and timely treatment, the spread of malaria is slowed.  

Malaria Health Education

Awareness and advocacy are crucial in preventing malaria. By raising public awareness about the disease, its causes and effective prevention measures, people can protect themselves and their communities, ultimately contributing to the disease's control and elimination.
HNTPO delivers a mass outreach campaign in Laghman province to educate people on the importance and correct use of mosquito nets.

Health education makes a huge impact when informing people on how to protect themselves through correct use of LLINs and the free testing drugs available through clinics to treat the disease. HNTPO reaches families who would typically not seek treatment or go to the hospital due to financial constraints.
Crowds gather in Laghman province during a mass campaign on malaria awareness.

Malaria through the Eyes of a Doctor

Dr. Mohammad Naeem, 60, Laghman Province 

It’s late morning, and Dr. Mohammad Naeem looks tired under his facemask. He has been the Head of the Clinic for the last 8 years. Despite his calling to help those in need, the patient overload is very tiring: he treats, on average, 200 patients during his 8 hours shift. 

Malaria is a big issue in eastern Afghanistan, where children are the most affected. Despite seeing more than 1000 patients a week, Dr. Naeem is undaunted because every time he helps someone, it reinforces his awareness of the importance of his work.  

Dr. Naeem shared a poignant memory of a young child with an extremely high fever whose mother was worried for their life. The doctor vividly recalled the swift action taken to test the child for malaria and provide the necessary anti-malaria medication and the immense relief that washed over the mother's face. As he reflected on this experience, Dr. Naeem smiled under the facemask. He concludes, saying, “I just wish to see a Malaria-free Afghanistan one day.” 

Malaria through the Eyes of a Patient

Ismail, 38, Kunar Province

Ismail, a 38-year-old driver, brought his sick child to Watapur hospital a few weeks ago. After undergoing some medical tests, both Ismail and his child were diagnosed with malaria. As the sole provider for his seven children, Ismail was already struggling to make ends meet on his salary. The news of their illness only added to his worries, as he now had to find a way to pay for the necessary medication to treat them and ensure his family's wellbeing.

To his surprise, at Watapur hospital, they both their medicines for free, along with mosquito nets, covered expenses to travel back home and fresh food for his child. Despite the challenges they had to face, Ismail told us that he felt comfortable throughout the entire process and trusted the doctors fully through their recovery.


Khadīja*, 40, Laghman Province 

Khadīja is a mother of three that lives in Laghman province. As a stay-at-home parent, she cares for her children full-time while her husband works to provide for their family. Khadīja learned about malaria through one of HNTPO's mass campaigns. When her child started feeling sick, Khadīja knew to bring him straight to the hospital where he was tested and cured with anti-malaria drugs in only three days. 

Khadīja shares that she and her family struggle to afford hospital expenses and cannot pay rent if they fall ill. Through the health education, she learned she could receive free anti-malaria drugs from the clinic, how to use LLINs, nets for windows and doors. Khadīja is at peace: her child is healthy, she knows how to care for her family better and she does not face social stigma as the situation was quickly solved. Now, she just hopes that a malaria-free Afghanistan will come soon for everyone. 


*Name has been changed to protect identity.