Gaborone — Following sporadic malaria outbreaks across the country, 11 deaths occurred from 1 646 malaria cases reported during the 2016/17 malaria transmission period with Okavango District contributing 59.6 per cent of the reported cases countrywide.
Giving an overview of the malaria programme on Friday, community health nurse for greater Gaborone, Ms Dimpho Keabonye said transmission of malaria was seasonal and closely related to rainfall.
She said the floods experienced early this year contributed to the high malaria cases.
"Major epidemics occurred in 1988, 1993, 1996 and 1997 resulting in significant loss of lives," she said.
Ms Keabonye, however, noted that the health ministry had been experiencing localised epidemics in some districts with less devastating effects.
"In 2005, the Bobirwa area had a malaria epidemic as well as in 2006 with areas such as Ngami, Okavango and Chobe," she said, further stating that in 2009 the Bobirwa, Kweneng and Mabutsane areas experienced a malaria epidemic with the disease hitting Mahalapye in 2010.
She also highlighted the malaria spread to the Okavango, Ngami, Chobe and Bobonong areas in 2013 while Serowe and Palapye experienced the epidemic in 2014. "By the year 2016, the disease was found at the Okavango, Tutume, Boteti and Ghanzi areas."
For her part, chief health officer for the national malaria programme, Ms Tjantilili Mosweunyane said the goal of the extended malaria strategic plan for 2014-2018 was to achieve zero local malaria transmission by 2018.
She said given the high reported cases of malaria in the past transmission season (2016/2017), the Ministry of Health and Wellness carried out an in-depth assessment of what was lacking in their efforts to reach zero malaria transmission.
"We are aware that the past transmission season a high number of cases were reported even in the southern parts of Botswana such as Kweneng and Kgatleng areas because of the heavy rainfalls despite using the highly recommended factor-control interventions," she said.
Ms Mosweunyane further noted that the situation was beyond their capacities and that a World Health Organisation's (WHO) team of epidemiologist experts was engaged to work with local epidemiologist.
In Botswana, the major malaria parasite species is the plasmodium falciparum which is responsible for over 98 per cent of malaria cases, and the most related vector species found in Botswana is the anopheles arabinoses.
Symptoms of malaria include fever, fever with headache, back pains, chills, sweating, nausea and vomiting.
Source : BOPA