Maputo — Mozambican Health Minister Alexander Manguele warned on Friday that, despite the progress made in reducing mortality and morbidity from malaria in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region, more needs to be done to guarantee the sustainability of malaria programmes, in order to ensure effective control over the disease, and eventually its eradication.
Manguele said that SADC member states should rise to the challenge of adopting innovative mechanisms to mobilise resources at national and regional level, and to ensure the strengthening of cross-border initiatives.
He urged all SADC members to set up their own National Malaria Elimination Commissions, and to promote the local production of DDT for mosquito spraying campaign, as well as the local production of anti-malarial drugs.
Manguele was speaking in the town of Manhica, about 80 kilometres north of Maputo, to mark SADC Malaria Day, held this year under the theme “For a SADC region free of malaria: know the symptoms of malaria, take the test and undergo treatment”. Manguele told the meeting, attended by health ministers from across the region, that, according to the latest reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO), there has been a significant decline in cases of malaria and malaria deaths in southern Africa. “Due to continual malaria control and elimination efforts in the region, of the ten target countries for the eradication of the disease by 2015, four are in SADC”, said Manguele, referring to Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
“Slowly, but with large and certain steps, we are reaching the goal of zero deaths in 2015, in some of our member states”, he added.
The WHO representative in Mozambique, Daniel Kertesz, said that in 2001 the SADC region had recorded 20 cases of malaria per 1,000 inhabitants, but in 2011 the figure had fallen to less than one case per 1,000 inhabitants. “The region has also seen a decline of more than 50 per cent in malaria deaths in the same period”, added Kertesz.
The WHO Africa region believes that SADC is the sub-region best placed to achieve the elimination of malaria , defined as “zero cases locally acquired”.
In Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and the Tanzanian region of Zanzibar, the number of malaria cases fell from 50,000 in 2010 to 6,500 in 2011, a decline of 87 per cent.
Deaths from malaria had fallen by 60 per cent in these countries, said Kertesz.
At this rate, he added, it was likely that by 2020 SADC will have the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to be certified as free from malaria. Kertesz said that the key to this success was the high coverage rates of effective interventions against malaria, particularly mosquito control. “The high rates of sustainable coverage in treating malaria with modern medicines, namely artemisinin-based combined therapy are praiseworthy”, he said. “However, some countries are continuing to use artemisinin as a monotherapy. This practice should be banned by all governments”.