WINDHOEK - The 38th Summit of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government has affirmed to place on its agenda the elimination of malaria in the region.
SADC heads of state and government have decided to make elimination one of the priority projects in the region in order to eliminate the disease, according to the official communiqué of the summit.
African ministers of health committed to a gradual movement from malaria control to elimination, beginning with a sub-set of countries where malaria elimination was considered most feasible in order to eliminate the disease by 2030.
The commitment was made following the launch of the African Malaria Elimination campaign.
Speaking to New Era on the sidelines of the summit on Saturday, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, said Namibia is among the countries in Southern Africa close to eliminating malaria.
Eight countries in Southern Africa are in the position to eliminate malaria by 2022. These include Botswana, South Africa, eSwatini, Madagascar and Tanzania with a focus on Zanzibar.
“We are working under pressure to eliminate malaria. We’re now pushing for the eight countries to meet the targets (on eliminating malaria) while not neglecting the other countries because in the end we must all eliminate malaria by 2030. All the tools are available and while we have challenges we have sufficient resources,” said Haufiku.
Between January and March last year, 18 people died while 1,902 were infected with malaria.
The most affected regions border neighbouring Angola, whose malaria transmission is very high compared to Namibia.
The Kavango East and West regions contributed about 77.3 percent to the total cases reported so far, followed by Zambezi at 11.1 percent and Ohangwena at 7.6 percent, the minister added.
Significant progress was made towards the goal of eradicating malaria by 2020, with a 96 percent reduction in cases and deaths since 2001. In 2001, 735,510 cases were registered with 1,747 deaths, according to the health ministry. The prevalence dropped to 3,163 cases and four deaths in 2012.
Commenting on the increase in malaria cases and deaths, the health minister admitted: “We relaxed a bit with our spraying once we saw we were successful. It’s almost like becoming a victim of your own success and I think there was not enough supervision for the people that were spraying and as a result spraying was not uniformly done.”
Haufiku said he recently discovered that some regions were left out of the indoor spraying against the malaria parasite.
Haufiku said the identified gaps would be closed in order to reduce malaria. He added some community members still resist indoor spraying.
“It’s a problem in some areas where we have experienced households not wanting their houses to be sprayed. That is also based on wrong information that the community is having. We need to work on that as well. These are things that will prevent us from succeeding,” said the minister. Haufiku further said in terms of malaria deaths health officials waited for people to present themselves with malaria symptoms at health facilities.
“We waited for too many people to come to hospitals. We didn’t go into the community and identify people who have symptoms of malaria and that caused a lot of delays. People don’t have the means to arrive at the health facilities on time. Much of our malaria deaths are preventable if we go into the community and that is what we’re now doing with the Integrated Community Case Management programme,” explained Haufiku.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), malaria claims more lives in sub-Saharan Africa than any other disease.
In addition, 90 percent of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly children and expecting mothers.
2018-08-20 09:29:08 8 months ago