Malaria remains biggest killer in region

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Tiri Masawi

Windhoek –Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have experienced a spike in malaria cases, with experts warning that while COVID-19 is a clear and present threat, the mosquito-borne disease remains the leading cause of death in the region.

Southern African Elimination 8 anti-malaria Ambassador and former Namibian Minister of Health, Richard Kamwi, said authorities must keep malaria on their radar.

"The sharp increase in malaria numbers could be because of resistance to drugs. For us to avert mortality rates from malaria there is need to avail of support to health ministries as well as synergising malaria fighting mechanisms with COVID-19," Kamwi said.

Namibia’s Health and Social Services Minister, Kalumbi Shangula, said the country would continue working closely with SADC Elimination 8 to combat malaria.

According to statistics from Minister Shangula’s office, Namibia has recorded 11,000 malaria cases over the past year, resulting in 32 deaths.

As of last Tuesday, Namibia had 34 COVID-19 cases.

Zimbabwe has registered more than 335,000 malaria cases in the past year compared to less than 400 of the new Coronavirus.

Zambia has recorded around 1,000 COVID-19 cases against more than 200,000 of malaria.

Minister Shangula said Namibia needed support for implementation of diagnostic testing for malaria, pointing out there had been a spike in cases in the Okavango East and West, Zambezi and Ohangwena regions since December 2019.

"These regions are experiencing a significant increase in the number of malaria cases compared to 2018.”

Last week, the SADC Elimination 8 Group donated Artemether/Lumefantrine dosages worth R150,694.35 to Namibia’s Health Ministry. 

Shangula said, "We commit to distribute this medicine to all affected regions. While all current efforts are concentrated on COVID-19, Namibia has another health crisis that has caused 11 598 illness and 32 deaths in the past few months. We take great pride in our efforts and with your assistance we will continue to curb the local malaria transmission till Namibia obtains a malaria-free status.

"Frontline workers, including community-based healthcare providers, need protective gear to carry out their routine work. Restrictions in movement have a direct impact including the types of transportation to ferry health workers and community volunteers around.”

 

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