25 April 2019

Zimbabwe Records 60 Percent Decline in Malaria Deaths

Photo: G. Tapper/WHO
In Timanguene, Mozambique, workers with a non-profit health research centre go door to door carrying out activities to prevent malaria and reduce transmission of this mosquito-borne disease. (file photo).

MALARIA deaths have sharply declined in Zimbabwe with 192 deaths recorded in 2018, down from 518 recorded the year before, Health and Child Care ministry has revealed.

The official information was released as the country joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Malaria Day Thursday.

According to data from the ministry, there were 264,278 malaria cases and 192 deaths in 2018.

"This represents a substantial decline from the previous year: above 40 percent reduction in cases and over 60 percent reduction in deaths."

Malaria is a life-threatening disease which claims over half a million people each year globally with children in the poorest Sub-Saharan Africa being the most affected.

There have been fears of drastic rise in number of deaths after the country was hit by Cyclone Idai but the ministry swiftly reacted to possible consequences of the disaster.

Recently, Manicaland Provincial Medical Director, Patron Mafaune was quoted saying the ministry was on an initiative of providing mosquito nets to cope the disease.

However, Mafaune said there was need for mosquito larvicides to eliminate immature mosquitoes.

"What we currently require are larvicides so that we can treat the mosquito breeding sites as well as mosquito repellents so that our community can even become better protected," she said.

She also said the situation will require months of vigilant monitoring before Zimbabwe can declare it is free of the dreaded disease.

Meanwhile, the United States government has issued a statement saying it stands with the people of Zimbabwe in commemorating World Malaria Day and fighting the disease.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) has contributed long-term substantial investments to end malaria.

It has provided over US$105 million since 2008 to prevent and treat malaria, reaching almost a million Zimbabweans with lifesaving health services.

PMI, through USAID, provides vital commodities such as long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, rapid diagnostic tests, and lifesaving medications.

"USAID trained over 10,000 village health workers on malaria case management over the last 10 years, helping to improve prevention and treatment of malaria in Zimbabwe. This resulted in the timely detection and treatment of malaria cases, improving health and saving lives in rural communities that have difficulty accessing health clinics," read the statement.

USAID Mission Director Stephanie Funk said, "Malaria has long threatened the people of Zimbabwe, but the data show a notable decline in malaria cases and deaths. USAID is proud to be a partner in such impressive progress."

Malaria is among the top causes of illness and deaths in Zimbabwe, with over half of the population living in high-risk areas.

In just 10 years, the coordinated efforts of USAID, the Global Fund, and the NMCP have contributed to a substantial drop in malaria cases in Zimbabwe from 1.2 million in 2008 to 264,278 in 2018 - a 78 percent reduction.

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