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Sri Lanka's malaria milestone

Dinithi Wijesekera of a malaria mobile clinic draws blood from a worker in a steel plant in Ekala. (Photo by Marwaan Macan-Markar)

EKALA, Sri Lanka -- On a weekday afternoon, a public health team attached to a mobile malaria clinic makes its way in a vehicle down a narrow street in Ekala, a congested factory town of light and heavy industry north of Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital. The four-member team spends over two hours at one site, a cavernous, noisy steel-bar production plant, to test some Indian and local workers for malaria. During that time, Dinithi Wijesekera, a laboratory specialist, draws blood from the middle fingers of 117 sweat-soaked men as part of the clinic's rapid diagnostic tests. No one tests positive for the parasite.

It is another bit of good news at the Colombo headquarters of the South Asian nation's anti-malaria campaign (AMC). The state-run organization deploys mobile teams throughout the country to track any signs of "imported malaria," a term for the disease from a patient carrying a foreign parasite transmitted by a malaria-bearing mosquito during international travel, or for a foreign worker who arrives in Sri Lanka from such malaria belts. Since the beginning of this year, the AMC's teams have identified and isolated 32 "imported malaria" cases for treatment. In 2015, there were 36 such cases, 49 in 2014, and 95 in 2013.

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