Abstract Irregular migration in the form of human smuggling and human trafficking is recognized as a global public health issue. Thirty-two cases of Plasmodium falciparum were detected in 534 irregular migrants returning to Sri Lanka via failed human smuggling routes from West Africa in 2012, contributing to the largest burden of imported cases in Sri Lanka as it entered elimination phase. Beyond the criminality and human rights abuse, irregular migration plays an important, but often forgotten, pathway for malaria re-introduction. Active surveillance of the growing numbers of irregular migrant flows becomes an important strategy as Sri Lanka advances towards goals of malaria elimination.
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