20 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Malaria Burden Declines to 2,5 Percent

Zimbabwe's national prevalence of malaria cases has dropped from 13,6 to 2,5 percent between 2006 and this year owing to a host of intervention measures taken by Government, an official has said.

Speaking to journalists at a malaria sensitisation workshop in Bulawayo this week, national malaria control programme manager Dr Joseph Mberikunashe said although the decline was encouraging, border towns and areas around Manicaland and Mashonaland East provinces still remained the worst affected areas.

He said the two provinces provided the top 20 districts with high malaria prevalence.

Dr Mberikunashe said those mostly affected by the disease were children under the age of five years.

"We have made a lot of progress in terms of reducing the national malaria burden where you will note that in 2006 we were at 13,6 percent.

"In December 2011 the figure had declined to 2,5 percent and as at 31 November this year we reached 1,7 percent.

"This is largely attributed to increased funding for the prevention and control programmes from both the Government and external donors.

"We believe that with the current efforts and team work we can get to a stage where we completely eliminate malaria as a country. It is pleasing that since 2009 Treasury has given malaria a consistent budget.

"However we still have challenges in Manicaland and Mashonaland areas and border areas such as Beitbridge. This is largely due to the variation in parasites, vectors, environmental and climate factors, differences in socio economic development, poverty and quality of houses.

"You will also note that most of these areas are low lying areas as compared to most towns and cities which are located in geographically higher places (central watershed)" said Dr Mberikunashe.

He said around 2002 they would record at least two million cases of malaria per year and in recent years the figure declined to 350 000 people with 3000 deaths and that had also declined to 300.

Dr Mberikunashe said 98 percent of causes of malaria were from the falciparum parasite, which he said was lethal.

He said they had employed measures such as indoor residual house spraying (IRS) in 45 districts while 21 others were sprayed with DDT (dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane) and also distributed two million treated mosquito nets to 30 districts since 2009.

"In terms of IRS coverage we have exceeded the WHO target of 80 percent. We as Government set our aim on 90 percent. The more we cover the more effective in controlling the vector and control of malaria," he said.

He also called on the media and other stakeholders to complement Government's efforts to reduce cases of malaria infections and deaths.

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