WINDHOEK – The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, says malaria remains a major public health problem in Namibia, particularly in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
Officiating at the second session of the health assembly Thursday, Shangula said the ultimate goal is to protect 1, 9 million Namibians at risk of contracting the deadly mosquito-transmitted illness.
“Thus, scaling up the campaign to eliminate malaria by 2022 remains one of our priority undertakings,” said Shangula.
According to a presentation made on Monday at the opening of the weeklong national management development forum of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Namibia witnessed a major change in malaria epidemiology over the past four years.
Even though significant reduction in malaria morbidity and mortality were observed on an annual basis until 2012, the country has observed an upsurge in malaria cases and deaths from 2014 till 2017, according to the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ strategic plan of 2017/2018 to 2021/2022.
The total number of reported malaria cases has increased from 24,869 in 2016 to 66,141 in 2017 while malaria deaths decreased from 93 in 2016 to 92 in 2017. The high number of malaria cases reported were mostly due to outbreaks that occurred in the two Kavango regions.
The reported outbreaks have been attributed to improving malaria surveillance and testing, registered insecticide resistance, low Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) coverage, and inadequate supervision and malaria funding to scale up and sustain the malaria strategies, according to the report.
The sprayed structures have increased from 659,830 during 2016 to 694,328 in 2017 and the national IRS coverage stands at 80.3 percent.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services received 15,000 long lasting insecticidal nets from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) local office and distributed these in hard to reach areas and also to priority regions where IRS is not feasible, according to the report.
Shangula also touched on HIV/AIDS, saying for several years the ministry has provided antiretroviral therapy to HIV-positive people who fulfilled certain defined criteria.
“However, earlier this year, a decision was taken to adopt the ‘Test and Treat’ policy in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations. This means that every person who tests HIV positive, should be put on treatment promptly,” said Shangula.
2019-02-22 09:04:39 6 months ago