Is there malaria in Malaysia?
Yes, there is malaria in Malaysia, although efficient vector control campaigns, alongside a well-functioning health system which effectively diagnoses and treats malaria cases has vastly reduced the transmission of the disease in peninsular Malaysia at least. Transmission is still a problem in rural, interior areas, and especially in Sabah and Sarawak.
The history of malaria control in Malaysia is actually something of a success story; back in 1961, there were over 240,000 reported cases of malaria across the country; this was reduced to about 40,000 cases by 1980, due to the measures mentioned briefly above, and in 2008, that number had further dropped to only about 7,000 cases a year.
The fatality rate of malaria in Malaysia is also very low, being about 0.09%, or about 50 deaths a year, which is a testament to the effectiveness of national health systems at monitoring for the disease. Having said that, Plasmodium falciparum, the most severe type of malaria, is present in Malaysia—it was this that was responsible for all the reported fatalities in 2008. As such, if you are visiting or living in rural regions of Malaysia, where malaria transmission still is relatively high, it is recommended that you take preventative measures against the disease, such as sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet, or taking prophylactic (preventative) medicine. This latter measure is usually only worthwhile if you are visiting a malaria area for a relatively short time, as the drugs can be quite expensive.
If you have visited these rural areas, and have symptoms of malaria, such as fever and chills, within two weeks of returning, you should go to the hospital or visit a physician immediately for diagnosis. If it is malaria, the doctor will be able to provide you with the most appropriate medicine for the type of malaria that you have.