20 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Health Officials, Stakeholders to Meet

HEALTH officials and stakeholders from Manicaland will meet tomorrow to deliberate on ways to contain a malaria outbreak that has so far claimed 10 lives and left tens of thousands others treated of the disease in the past weeks, a senior Government official has said.

Provincial epidemiological and disease officer for Manicaland Dr Maphios Siamuchembu said the province continued recording an increase in the number of cases since the beginning of the month with alarming number of cases being recorded in areas which never used to be malaria areas.

Citing an example of Mutare City which used to record an average of 200 cases a week in previous years, Dr Siamuchembu said the highest figure for this season in Mutare was 870 cases in one week.

He said some clinics were recording an average of 200 people per day with malaria.

Districts which are mostly affected include Buhera, Mutasa, Mutare rural and Mutare city.

"We suspect that the torrential, rains experienced in Mutare around the 18th of January gave rise to mosquito breeding," said Dr Siamuchembo.

"Evidence also shows that mosquito net coverage for the province is very low with only 25 percent coverage per household."

He said although malaria endemic areas were sprayed, some districts which never used to have malaria now have such cases.

Dr Siamuchembu said the figures could be high because of efficiency in data collection and dissemination owing to new technologies.

Meanwhile, national malaria program manager in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr Joseph Mberikunashe said nationally malaria cases are on the increase.

Government, he said, was worried about the high figures and had since started awareness campaigns on signs and symptoms of malaria, early treatment and prevention.

Official figures from the ministry recorded in Week 6 of the year, thus two weeks ago, shows that 62 587 malaria cases were treated throughout the country since the beginning of the year and 32 people died.

Malaria is preventable and curable but can cause deaths of patients who delay to seek medical attention.

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