Young people are more advanced and exposed to technology than older generations, and should thus be at the forefront to spread malaria-related information, especially in local languages.
These were the sentiments of Helena Ngaifiwa, a youth advisory council member of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (Alma) to eliminate malaria by 2030, during a webinar attended by continental compatriots who were dissecting the role of the youth in eradicating the vector-borne disease.
She said one of the obvious ways in which to create effective awareness for Namibians is by talking to people in rural areas, which ultimately means there is a dire need to apply indigenous languages for the message to be clearer when it comes to malaria prevention.
Ngaifiwa also spoke about the importance and power of the media when it comes to disseminating information related to malaria, and the need to collectively tackle it head-on as it affects everything in the country. “The fight to end malaria is not just for the health sector; it’s not only for the countries whose health ministries are at war with the pandemic,” she noted.
“If we want to come together and end malaria successfully, we need to include education, information and communication technology, and make sure we fight this together. Bring out that idea; don’t hide it, as there are so many people who can save the world through such inputs. We have a role to play to end malaria.”
Ngaifiwa further commented that the biggest determining factor when it comes to understanding a message is not necessarily who conveyed it, but the tone or language in which it was spread or set, and this alone can establish the length to which the message will go.
Meanwhile, malaria in Namibia is endemic in 10 regions, being Kavango East and West, Ohangwena, Zambezi, Omusati, Oshikoto, Oshana, Kunene, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke – regions that have favourable environmental conditions for its transmission.
In recent reports, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said transmission is seasonal and unstable, characterised by focal outbreaks which mostly affect the regions of Kavango East and West, Zambezi and Ohangwena. These regions account for over 80% of the reported malaria cases.
On a positive note, the minister added that since they rolled out the new National Malaria Strategic Plan in 2017 to achieve malaria elimination in Namibia by 2022, the country observed remarkable reductions in malaria cases and deaths from 66 141 cases in 2017 to 3 404 in 2019.