17 September 2018

Namibia: WHO Impressed With Namibia's Malaria Battle

The World Health Organization (WHO) has commended Namibia for having made tremendous progress over the last two decades in its quest to reduce the malaria burden, though in the same breath the UN agency said resistance to anti-malaria drugs remains a challenge.

"Some of the challenges impeding the country's ability to stay on track and advance towards elimination include lack of sustainable funding, anomalous climate patterns, the emergence of parasite resistance to anti-malarial medicines and mosquito resistance to insecticides," said Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, the WHO country representative in Namibia.

Sagoe-Moses made the remarks in Windhoek on Friday when he officiated at the launch of the 2018 Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), the nation-wide spraying campaign that was witnessed by Dr Bernhard Haufiku, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Ben Nangombe the ministry's permanent secretary, representatives of bilateral and multilateral agencies and senior ministerial staff. IRS is one of the key interventions in the current multi-sectoral efforts to eliminate malaria.

"The WHO African region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2016, the region was home to 90 percent of malaria cases and 91 percent of malaria deaths. Some 15 countries - all in sub-Saharan Africa except India, accounted for 80 percent of the global malaria burden," said the WHO country representative.

"... Namibia has made remarkable progress during the last two decades in reducing the burden of malaria. However, the country has experienced seasonal malaria outbreaks in a few northern districts since 2014 with an upward trend of cases being reported in 2016 and 2017," noted Sagoe-Moses.

Malaria, he said, continues to have a severe socio-economic impact on Namibia and is one of the causes of household poverty because it results in absenteeism from the daily activities of productive living and income-generation. Malaria, he observed, continues to prevent many school-going children from attending school and diminishes their capacity to realize their full potential.

Some of the other challenges include factors that inhibit effectiveness of malaria vector control efforts; low coverage and poor quality deployment of long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINS) and IRS; and behaviours that enable mosquitoes to avoid contact with these tools such as feeding and resting outdoors.

Meanwhile, Haufiku admitted that for the past four years, Namibia was hit by seasonal upsurges in malaria cases. He further said that IRS is targeted to protect the population at risk.

"Its effectiveness requires accessing all targeted structures to be sprayed and this can only be achieved through cooperation by all stakeholders, especially the members of our communities and households. One reason why Zambezi and Kavango east and west regions had such high incidence in 2016 and 2017 is because people refused spray teams from entering their houses," said Haufiku.

WHO strategies against malaria

In order to tackle the malaria burden, the WHO has developed the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016 - 2030 which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015 to guide and support countries as they work towards malaria control and elimination. The strategy sets ambitious but achievable global targets, including:

- reducing malaria case incidence by at least 90 percent by 2030;

- reducing malaria mortality rates by at least 90 percent by 2030;

- eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries by 2030; and,

- preventing a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free.

The strategy is based on three keys pillars: ensuring universal access to malaria prevention; diagnosis and treatment; accelerating efforts towards elimination and attainment of malaria-free status and transforming malaria surveillance into a core intervention.

2018-09-17 09:24:09 1 hours ago

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