13 November 2017

Malawi: Malaria Still Remains a Threat to Under-Five and Pregnant Women

Photo: The New Times
A mother and her child sleep under a mosquito net. This is one of the methods to fight against malaria (file photo).

Lilongwe — National Malaria Control Programme said malaria remains the major cause of death among under-5 children and pregnant women in the country.

National Malaria Control Programme Manager in Ministry of Health, Dr Michael Kayange disclosed this Friday in Lilongwe during a press briefing marking SADC Malaria week and commemoration of Malaria Day.

He pointed out that mortality rate is at 61 per cent for the period 2010 -2016 and they need to put more measures in order to reduce the percentage.

Programme Manager explained that malaria admission in most health facilities in the country accounts top 40 per cent while 30 per cent are being treated as outpatients.

Kayange said this is negatively having social economic impact among many communities in the country as most of the time people are spending in caring for malaria patients in various health facilities instead of indulging themselves in economic activities.

"Malaria is a burden to many people and it needs collective approach in order to fight it so that the prevalence rate can be reduced and save resources for the country," the Programme Manager pointed out.

He added that the country is making some strides in the fight against malaria saying recorders are showing that incidence of cases have being reduced from 484 to 353 per 1000 population in 2015 to 2016 period.

Kayange noted that," prevalence rate has reduced from 33 per cent to 24 per cent from 2014 and 2016 due the interventions that government has put in place in the fight against malaria."

He said the programme has identified districts of Nsanje, Neno, Mwanza Nkhotakota, Salima Ntchisi, Karonga and Nkhatabay as malaria districts which records highest numbers of cases during the peak period of January to April.

The Programme Manager observed that communities need to be encouraged to go for malaria test in order to find out if they have the plasmodium and not every sign and symptoms is an outright malaria cases saying due the escalating number diseases of emerging diseases to make a general conclusion before being tested.

He said communities need to be discouraged of just administering malaria drugs without be tested saying this is not health to them

"Malaria testing now is made simple and in each and every health facility, there is a provision of such testing equipment. We want to encourage people if they feel they are having malaria to go for test and get the required tests before administering malaria drugs," Kayange advised.

He said government introduced rapid malaria tests and it is working effectively and in 2011 it was at two per cent by 2016, it has reached 82 per cent coverage.

"We have reached 99 per cent of malaria testing in our health facilities. Patients are normally tested before being treated of malaria," Kayange confirmed.

He assured the media that malaria drugs are now available in all health facilities throughout the country.

Kayange said case of drug theft I our health facilities have drastically being reduced after the measures were put in place.

"The Globe Fund has provided support of US$ 65 million and this will enable us procure adequate malaria drugs to be suppled in the various health facilities throughout the country," the Manager highlighted.

World Vision Project Officer, Alexander Chikonga said they are working in partnership with government to fight malaria in the country.

He pointed out they have providing capacity building for over 1,400 Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) in malaria case management at community levels.

Chikonga said communities need to be sensitized on the importance of patronizing health facilities once they feel some signs of malaria attack.

He viewed that this is the only way the country could collective join hand in the fight against malaria within communities.

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