The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has reported seven new Filariasis cases in the Malé region, bringing the total number of infected individuals across the country to 32. The first case outside the initial cluster of infections, which was detected in Kulhudhuffushi City, emerged in Hulhumalé on Friday. Subsequently, the HPA has identified seven additional infections in the Malé region. The disease has been detected exclusively among expatriate workers.

These new cases were discovered during an ongoing health screening programme initiated by a special task force in response to the reemergence of the disease, previously eradicated in the Maldives. In line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations, the HPA has broadened its screening programme to other parts of the country. The initial detection of filariasis cases occurred during a comprehensive health screening programme conducted from 1 to 19 December in Kulhudhuffushi City, coinciding with World AIDS Day.

Over the course of the weekend, seven new infections were identified in the Malé region: five in Hulhumalé, one in Malé, and one in Gulhifalhu, according to the HPA. This brings the total number of infected individuals found in Malé to seven, while an additional 25 were discovered earlier in Kulhudhuffushi City, raising the total number of infected individuals to 32.

The infected individuals originate from regions where filariasis remains endemic, including expatriate workers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gopalganj, and Tamil Nadu in India and Bangladesh’s Cumilla region, as stated by the HPA. While local residents are also being screened for filariasis with random samples being taken, the HPA has reported that no locals have been infected with the disease thus far.

The HPA is also providing necessary treatment to individuals infected with the disease. As the screening programme continues, the agency has appealed to companies that employ expatriate workers for support. The HPA is also implementing measures to combat the spread of the disease, which include carrying out the screening programme, eliminating mosquito breeding grounds, and raising awareness about filariasis.

While filariasis is not currently included in the list of diseases for which health screening is conducted when work permits are issued to incoming expatriate workers, Dr Ahmed Ashraf, Director General of Health Services at the Ministry of Health, told Public Service Media (PSM) that authorities are contemplating making filariasis testing mandatory for migrant workers.

In an effort to assist the HPA in its endeavours, Urbanco announced the commencement of a special campaign titled ‘Filaria’in Rahka’ aimed at eradicating mosquito breeding grounds in Hulhumalé. The campaign will divide Hulhumalé into 12 areas, with teams surveying each region to identify mosquito breeding grounds, according to Urbanco.