South Africa plans to eliminate the spread of malaria within its borders by the year 2018, President Jacob Zuma said in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Monday.
He was speaking at an African Union at which South Africa received the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) award for excellence in impact and implementation in the fight against malaria.
Zuma also confirmed that South Africa would continue to use controlled indoor spraying of Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) insecticide as part of its malaria control programme.
In 2006, the World Health Organisation (WHO) did an about-turn on the use of DDT to fight malaria, citing South Africa's successful anti-malaria programme as evidence that controlled indoor spraying of the insecticide was not only safe, but "one of the best tools we have" against the killer disease.
In 1996, South Africa had stopped using DDT against malaria following pressure from environmental groups.
Zuma said this resulted in huge increases of malaria cases in the country, from a baseline of approximately 10 000 cases in 1995 to 64 622 in the year 2000.
"The cause of this increase was mainly due to the particular species that transmitted malaria, which was once eradicated with DDT, had reappeared and was resistant to other types of insecticides."
The Department of Health returned to the use of DDT in 2000. Subsequently malaria cases decreased to 26 506 in 2001, with progressive decreases in subsequent years to 9 866 cases in 2011.
Other recipients of the AU award were Cape Verde, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland and Zambia.
Zuma said South Africa and other SADC countries had initiated a process to eliminate malaria, in keeping with the call from the African Union in its 2007 malaria declaration.