The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has urged the government to reinstate pre-arrival health screenings for expatriates, as authorities grapple with a resurgence of filariasis among a group of expatriate workers in Kulhudhuffushi City.

According to an HPA representative, it has been two years since these crucial screenings were temporarily halted. The HPA’s strong recommendation is to reinstate these screenings for foreign nationals arriving in the Maldives for extended work assignments, he said.

The official underscored the effectiveness of the previous screening system, which encompassed sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other easily transmissible diseases, and stressed the need to include previously eradicated diseases within the screening process.

The newly established Ministry of Homeland Security, responsible for overseeing foreign labour matters, has indicated that a decision regarding the reinstatement of health screening protocols will be announced soon.

This week, a resurgence of filariasis, a disease previously eliminated in the Maldives, has prompted the formation of a specialised task force. This follows the confirmation of 19 cases among a cohort of migrant workers in Kulhudhuffushi City, primarily hailing from regions where filariasis remains endemic.

The task force, comprising personnel from Kulhudhuffushi Hospital, the local council, and other pertinent entities, has already screened 295 migrants. The ongoing efforts are focused on screening additional individuals and providing treatment to those who test positive. The HPA has received essential test kits from the World Health Organization (WHO) and is actively seeking additional resources.