Kavango Records Highest Number of Malaria Deaths

THE two Kavango regions have recorded the highest number of malaria cases and deaths in the country, resulting in a devastating effect on the population.

This was revealed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, Monir Islam, during the belated commemoration of World Malaria Day at Oshikango in Ohangwena region, yesterday.

The day was observed with a specific theme to provide education and understanding of malaria and vector-borne diseases.

“Among the major vector-borne diseases that are prevalent in the sub-Saharan Africa, schistosomiais (bilharzia) and malaria are causing a significant public health problem in Namibia. My focus today will be on malaria which has been responsible for a significant number of illnesses and deaths in the country,” said Islam.

According to WHO, over 200 million cases of malaria which were responsible for an estimated 627,000 deaths were reported globally in 2012. Malaria mortality rates have however fallen by 42% globally since 2000 and by 49% on the African continent.

According to the 2013 world malaria report, 59 out of 103 malaria endemic countries are on course of meeting the millennium development goal (MDG) target of reversing the incidences of malaria by 2015.

Islam said that out of these 59 countries, 52 countries are on track to meet the roll back malaria (RBM), which is the global framework to implement coordinated action against malaria and the world health assembly targets of reducing malaria case incidence rates by 75% by 2015.

Worldwide, between 2000 and 2012, estimated malaria mortality rates fell by 42% in all age groups and by 48% in children under 5 years of age.

“If the annual rate of decrease that has occurred over the past 12 years is maintained, then malaria mortality rates are projected to decrease by 52% in all ages and by 60% in children under 5 years of age by 2015. If this rate is sustained, the world will make a significant progress towards the target of 75% reduction by 2015,” said Islam.

In 2012, the financing of malaria programmes was estimated to be less than half of the estimated US$5,1 billion required for that purpose globally.

Islam said many people that are at risk of malaria still do not have access to proven interventions such as insecticide treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, diagnostic testing and artemisinin-based combination therapies.

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Richard Kamwi said that World Malaria Day is an occasion that highlights the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control.

“Schistosomiasis, better-known as bilharzia affects communities in the northern belt (Zambezi, Kunene, Omusati and Kavango region) of Namibia,” said Kamwi, adding that the disease is associated with lack of hygiene and contact with infested water.

The national prevalence for schistosomiasis in the country is estimated at 11% with the highest prevalence of 28% recorded in Kavango region.

He said that despite the national decline in malaria, the country is still experiencing an upsurge of malaria cases and deaths in some of the border towns such as Katima Mulilo, Andara, Nyangana and Engela.

Around 400 000 long lasting nets are to be distributed to all persons residing in malaria regions this year.

Kamwi urged community members to use the nets to protect themselves against mosquito bites and not as fishing nets.

The 17-day campaign against malaria, covering 15 SADC countries was launched by Malawi President Joyce Banda on 14 April this year and the closing ceremony is planned in the trans-Kunene area on the Namibia-Angola border.

Source : The Namibian