Zimbabwe: Cyclone Idai Surges Malaria Cases in Manicaland

27 June 2019

The climate change induced Cyclone Idai which left a trail of destruction in three Southern Africa countries, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi has brought another catastrophe in Manicaland province as malaria cases are on an upsurge.

The eastern parts of Zimbabwe have recorded an upsurge in malaria cases, a health officials has said.

National Malaria Program coordinator, Doctor Joseph Mberikunashe said Cyclone Idai has caused a 10 percent upsurge in malaria incidents despite routine government control measures.

Dr Mberikunashe made these remarks at the sidelines of the National Malaria Annual Conference held recently where officials in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, stakeholders and partners strategized towards achieving priorities of the national malaria control program.

"The districts affected by Cyclone Idai in this province are Chimanimani and Chipinge. We have set up some temporary shelters and clinics apart from the ones that existed before the reason being that they then cater for people that were displaced from their homes as they are now more exposed to mosquito bites.

"We have been seeing cases increasing, they have increased by 10% so far since the Cyclone Idai happened and Manicaland is our highest malaria burdened province in the country.

"When you compare the number of cases from last year, you will realize that they have increased by 10 percent despite the fact that we have sprayed and taken measure that target the homes."

Dr Mberikunashe said Zimbabwe has made significant progress in fighting malaria with at least 28 districts out of the 62 nationally already in the pre-elimination phase.

He said while half of the population resides in malaria risk areas there have been great strides in fighting the scourge nationally.

"The country has been making significant progress in terms of elimination of malaria in the country. We have realized an 86 percent reduction in terms of disease burden in 2018 compared to a baseline of the year 2000.

"In terms of deaths, we have also seen a decline of 82 percent over the same period, so that's a significant change in the landscape for malaria in the country.

"Out of the 62 districts we now have 28 which are already doing pre-elimination activities which mean malaria has been reduced to very few cases per district or less than four cases out of every 1000, and we can follow up on every case because they are manageable," said Dr Mberikunashe.

Chief Director Preventative Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Gibson Mhlanga said Cyclone Idai posed a serious test of the national disaster risk reduction strategies.

He said Cyclone provided a breeding ground for malaria causing mosquitoes in the border province.

"The cyclone took away the major malaria preventative tools that had been set up to protect communities during the pre-season campaign in the fourth quarter of 2018 as it destroyed homes and swept away mosquito nets which families might have had and created more breeding ground for vector mosquitoes.

"The disaster presented a serious test for our national response systems to emergencies, the Ministry Health and Child Care malaria program was able to respond as most affected areas were not easily accessible," said Dr Mhlanga.

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