Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi have agreed to collaborate in fighting malaria and diarrhoeal diseases, amid revelations that 949 people have died of the disease since the beginning of this year in the three countries. There were four million recorded cases of malaria in the three countries during the same period. A further 13 016 people were treated for typhoid and another 2 131 were treated for cholera, of which a sizable number of cases occurred along the border lines.
This prompted health officials from the three countries to moot a collaborative plan to deal with preventable and treatable diseases, particularly along the border areas.
In a communiqué released after a two-day meeting by senior health officials from the three countries held in Tete, Mozambique recently, Ministers of Health agreed to harmonise primary health care activities such as disease prevention.
They also agreed to harmonise treatment guidelines and facilitate clinical management in health facilities located in bordering districts.
The countries also agreed to revive, harmonise and operationalise community health committees along borders to assist with some community initiatives such as water and sanitation facilities.
The Ministers noted that owing to the frequent movement of people at borders for economic and social reasons, prevalence of cholera and malaria had worsened.
"Each country has been supported by partners and is engaged in aggressive interventions to control and eliminate these diseases; however, the transmission dynamics in these countries of malaria and diarrhoeal diseases, including cholera, and other communicable diseases is highly interconnected and interdependent, being entirely linked in part to population movements," reads part of the communiqué.
Following the successful meeting and a clear plan of what needs to be done, the Ministers further agreed to set up a coordination committee tasked to harmonise the preparedness and response to the diseases.
In order to start activities and achieve results in the short term, the countries committed to immediately design work plans with tangible targets.
Speaking after signing of the communiqué, the three Ministers reiterated their readiness and commitment to collaborate in combating not only malaria and cholera, but all the other diseases.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said the collaboration was long overdue.
"We are the same people and we need to work together on issues that affect our people," he said. "In some bordering districts, a particular village in one country might have the same chief with a particular village in the neighbouring country, so blame game does not work.
"Let us address challenges in our region without blaming each other on where majority of the cases are coming from."
World Health Organisation representative in Mozambique Dr Djamila Khady Cabral congratulated the three countries for the collaborative initiative, saying it was a step in the right direction.
Dr Cabral said lessons from outbreaks such as Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone bore evidence to the fact that lack of collaboration could lead to diseases spreading to neighbouring countries. She said her organisation was committed to assisting the three countries with technical advice on their initiatives and would also assist in resource mobilisation to effectively implement their strategies.