More than 2,000 malaria cases reported in UAE in 2011

The number of malaria cases reported in Abu Dhabi, UAE, grew to more than 2,000 in 2011, more than double the number reported in 2010.

Health officials reported that the Emirates would maintain its malaria-free status, which they it obtained in 2007, because all of the cases are considered imported, according to TheNational.ae.

There were 2,129 cases in the first nine months of 2011. Figures for the last three months have yet to be released.

Dr. Farida Al Hosani, the section head of communicable diseases at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, said that the increase was not only expected, it was welcomed.

"We shifted in 2010 to an electronic surveillance system," Al Hosani said, TheNational.ae reports. "Previously it was a manual system so the compliance was less, and as the number increases, so does our view of what is happening. For malaria the numbers have almost doubled. This is not only because the reporting improved, but because there were some outbreaks in nearby countries."

The World Health Organization granted the UAE malaria-free status a decade after reporting its last local case. It was the first country in the Middle East to achieve the status.

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, or GCC, region has an exemplary record in malaria control, according to the Director the GCC Center for Infection Control, Dr. Ziad A Memish.

"Out of the whole GCC region, only the southern part of Saudi Arabia and Yemen have cases of malaria. That's where the activity is," Memish said, TheNational.ae reports.