Drop in malaria cases

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

MALARIA deaths have de­clined by more than half in the first seven months of the year com­pared to the same pe­riod last year as the Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to put more in­ter­ven­tions to fight the dis­ease.

In an in­ter­view, the di­rec­tor of the Malaria Con­trol Pro­gramme in the Min­istry of Health and Child Wel­fare, Dr Joseph Mberiku­nashe said there have been 159 deaths be­tween Jan­uary and Septem­ber com­pared to 448 deaths recorded dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

“There is a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in the num­ber of malaria cases and deaths in 2018 as we have recorded 159 cases com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2017 when we recorded 448 deaths. This can be at­trib­uted to a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors that in­clude im­proved care due to con­tin­ued train­ing and men­tor­ship of health work­ers on case man­age­ment as well as in­crease in the num­ber of com­mu­nity health work­ers trained in case man­age­ment. This has led to im­proved re­sponse and man­age­ment of out­breaks,” he said.

Dr Mberiku­nashe said Man­i­ca­land, Mashona­land East and West and Masvingo prov­inces have recorded the high­est malaria preva­lence rate while Bu­l­awayo has the low­est num­ber of malaria cases.

“Man­i­ca­land, Mashona­land East and Cen­tral and Masvingo are the most af­fected prov­inces ac­count­ing for 91,3 per­cent of the bur­den while Bu­l­awayo has 0,1 per­cent. Those above five years are the most af­fected. This could be at­trib­uted to out­door ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing mos­quito bit­ing times and that is be­tween sun­set and sun­rise,” he said.

He also said mo­bil­ity was now a big chal­lenge due to the short­age of fuel.

“Fuel is now dif­fi­cult to find, we have a chal­lenge of mo­bil­ity and it has now crip­pled our move­ments in terms of go­ing out. We are plead­ing with dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers to help us in terms of hav­ing ac­cess to fuel so that we can be able to travel to dif­fer­ent places,” said Dr Mberiku­nashe.

He said the min­istry has started prepa­ra­tions for the trans­mis­sion sea­son to help fight against the dis­ease.

“The Min­istry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) through the Na­tional Malaria Con­trol Pro­gramme (NMCP) uses the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) rec­om­mended in­ter­ven­tions to pre­vent, con­trol and elim­i­nate malaria in Zim­babwe. Cur­rently the MOHCC is con­duct­ing In­door Resid­ual Spray­ing.

“We are tar­get­ing to spray a to­tal of 2 785 946 struc­tures in 32 dis­tricts and we are also tar­get­ing to pro­tect a pop­u­la­tion of 3 151 520.

“We urge all the com­mu­ni­ties in areas that are go­ing to be sprayed to par­tic­i­pate ac­tively dur­ing spray­ing IRS,” he said.

He added that drugs were read­ily avail­able in all dis­tricts for sus­pected cases of malaria.

“Ad­e­quate medicines and mos­quito nets have been pro­cured and prepo­si­tioned in all dis­tricts of the coun­try to en­sure prompt treat­ment of malaria cases at all lev­els in­clud­ing at the com­mu­nity. All sus­pected cases of malaria are tested and only pos­i­tive cases of malaria are treated with ef­fec­tive medicines,” said Dr Mberiku­nashe.

Malaria re­mains a ma­jor haz­ard for all preg­nant women ex­posed to the mos­quito par­a­site.

Be­ing preg­nant makes them more vul­ner­a­ble to in­fec­tion, and far more likely to de­velop full malaria symp­toms even if they would nor­mally have a good level of re­sis­tance to the dis­ease.

@TendaiBhebe

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