Malaria - a major health problem within an oil palm plantation around Popondetta, Papua New Guinea
AuthorPluess, B; Mueller, I; Levi, D; King, G; Smith, TA; Lengeler, C
Source TitleMalaria Journal
PublisherBIOMED CENTRAL LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sMueller, Ivo
AffiliationMedical Biology (W.E.H.I.)
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsPluess, B., Mueller, I., Levi, D., King, G., Smith, T. A. & Lengeler, C. (2009). Malaria - a major health problem within an oil palm plantation around Popondetta, Papua New Guinea. MALARIA JOURNAL, 8 (1), https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2875-8-56.
Access StatusOpen Access
BACKGROUND: For companies operating in malaria endemic countries, malaria represents a substantial risk to workers and their dependants, and can lead to significantly reduced worker productivity. This study provides an overview of the malaria epidemiology within an oil palm plantation in Popondetta, south-eastern Papua New Guinea, its implication for the company with its employees and their families and the potential for control. METHODS: In 2006, we carried out a cross-sectional study within six company villages, which included the determination of parasite rates by conventional microscopy, interviews and haemoglobin measurements. Passive surveillance data were collected from the 13 company aid posts for the years 2005 and 2006. RESULTS: Malaria prevalence was found to be high: all-age prevalence was 33.5% (95% CI 30.1-37.0) in 723 individuals. Plasmodium falciparum was the dominant species, followed by Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium malariae. Children between five and nine years of age were most affected (40.3%, 95% CI 0.32-0.49). Haemoglobin levels were found to be low; 11.0 g/dl (95% CI 10.8-11.1) for men and 10.4 g/dl (95% CI 10.3-10.5) for women, respectively. Plasmodium falciparum infections were significantly associated with anaemia (Hb < 10 g/dl). At the aid posts, all malaria cases in 2005 and January-March 2006 were diagnosed by symptoms only, while from April 2006 onwards most cases were tested by rapid diagnostic tests. Between 2005 and 2006, 22,023 malaria cases were diagnosed at the aid posts and malaria accounted for 30-40% of all clinical cases. Of the malaria cases, 13-20% were HOP employees. On average, an employee sick with malaria was absent for 1.8 days, resulting in a total of 9,313 workdays lost between 2005 and 2006. Sleeping outside of the house did not increase the risk of a malaria infection, neither did getting up before 7 am. CONCLUSION: Malaria was found to be a major health burden in the Higaturu Oil Palm plantation, posing a high risk for company staff and their relatives, including expatriates and other non-immune workers. Reducing the malaria risk is a highly recommended investment for the company.
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