HC Deb 19 July 1978 vol 954 cc520-1
No. 11. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the number of malaria cases in Scotland at the most recent convenient date; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Harry Ewing)

Forty-one cases of malaria were notified in Scotland during the first six months of this year. There is no significant change from the level of notifications in 1976 and 1977.

Mr. Dempsey

Is my hon. Friend aware that a statement was made on the radio by the medical officer for Lanarkshire that the number of cases was on the increase, not only in Scotland but throughout the United Kingdom? Is enough publicity given to the matter? Is knowledge of the areas where people can be vulnerable to this illness made available? Is the appropriate medical treatment also available to those who wish to visit those parts of the world?

Mr. Ewing

It is true that the number of cases is on the increase. In the United Kingdom as a whole there has been an increase of about 25 per cent., but there has not been that increase in Scotland. As I said, the notifications in Scotland reflect no change between 1976 and 1977, although between the previous two years there was an increase of about 80 per cent. We are concerned about such diseases. The chief medical officer for Scotland has written to doctors in Scotland to draw the matter to their attention.

Mr. Thompson

Does the Minister accept that in the days when there was a tropical diseases unit in Scotland in the 1960s a higher proportion of the population, per capita, had malaria diagnosed than in England and Wales, and that the position is now reversed? Is he satisfied that we have sufficient facilities in Scotland to provide for the early diagnosis of malaria cases, so that we can have speedy cures?

Mr. Ewing

I certainly could not accept the implication of that question, which is that there are many people going around Scotland with malaria simply because it has not been diagnosed. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that anyone with malaria will very soon have it diagnosed. I am satisfied that Scotland has the facilities to meet what is a fairly low level of demand.