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Malaria deaths up 95 percent


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Sunday News May 7, 2017

Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
AT least 227 people have died of malaria in the first 15 weeks of this
year, almost double the figure recorded during the same period last year
as authorities attribute the upsurge in malaria cases and deaths to the
increase in rainfall.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, last year 116 malaria
deaths were in the first 15 weeks, signalling a 95 percent increase this
year. A total of

170 897 malaria cases were recorded in the first 15 months of this year up
from 108 788 that were recorded during the same period last year.

Programme manager of the Malaria Control Unit in the Ministry of Health
and Child Care, Dr Joseph Mberikunashe said outbreaks of the disease had
been recorded in some parts of the country. He was, however, quick to
mention that the ministry was on top of the situation.

"An outbreak is then defined when the threshold values of malaria cases at
health facilities have been surpassed (even by one case). Health
facilities (most along the border and low lying areas) with cases that
surpassed the threshold values have been reported in provinces of
Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central and partly Mashonaland East," he
said.

Dr Mberikunashe said low lying areas which were affected by floods were
the hardest hit by malaria and habitants of those areas remained
vulnerable to mosquito bites.

"Populations in these areas if unprotected will be exposed to mosquito
bites that may result in malaria infection. These are the areas that were
affected by floods and the cyclone and also received above-normal
rainfall," he said.

Dr Mberikunashe said the ministry, through the national malaria control
programme, has put in place interventions to control malaria increases and
reported outbreaks.

"Among these interventions is indoor residual house spraying in high risk
areas using effective insecticides, distribution of Long Lasting
Insecticidal Nets to protect the communities from mosquito bites. These
interventions are coupled with strong social behaviour change
communication programmes to ensure universal access of the interventions,"
he said.

Dr Mberikunashe also implored communities to embrace positive behaviour
practices to ensure effectiveness of the interventions. He said the
Ministry has managed to respond effectively to the disease.

"Because of the array of intense control measures put in place to fight
the increase of malaria cases, the ministry has been on top of the
situation," said Dr Mberikunashe.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has targeted to reduce malaria
deaths from 22 per 1 000 people per year, to one per 1 000 by the end of
this year. In the early 2000s the country used to record up to two million
cases every year and an average of about 5 000 deaths. However, in recent
years malaria cases have fallen to below half a million per year and an
average of about 350 deaths annually.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care more than 50 percent of
the country&;s population lives in malaria transmission risk areas.

Zimbabwe is one the malaria epidemic prone countries in the Sadc region
among Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland and Namibia. Malaria is caused by
a type of mosquito known as anopheles.

Original: http://www.sundaynews.co.zw/malaria-deaths-up-95-percent/


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