THIRTY-FOUR imported malaria cases were reported in Sibu Division last year, and none were from local transmission.
These imported cases were reported by Sarawakians working in overseas logging camps and construction industries, after returning home.
“Local people who work overseas, such as in logging camps and construction sectors, have to undergo malaria health screening before they return to Sarawak. This is because the chances of them transmitting it to their families are quite high,” said Sibu divisional health officer Dr Teh Jo Hun at a press conference in Sibu.
He said that despite zero local transmissions for the past few years, public awareness of malaria was still needed.
“We still need to create awareness about malaria because we notice that a lot of people, especially those who return from overseas, have tested positive for it.
“So, the danger is not only the disease itself, but if they (the returning workers) go back to the rural areas, they could transmit the disease,” he added.
In 2022, the state reported 47 cases of zoonotic malaria, which is transmitted by monkeys or other animals.
“If you fall sick, seek medical attention because it may be malaria,” said Dr Teh.
He said World Malaria Day was usually celebrated on April 25. However, this year’s celebration in Sibu took place alongside the University of Technology Sarawak (UTS) Holistic Health: Start with Family programme on May 20.
Present at the press conference was UTS vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Abdul Hamid.