Officials Brace for Malaria Outbreak

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Due to recent flooding at Mariental, Oshigambo and some parts of the Caprivi Region, an upsurge in malaria cases is expected. In an effort to reduce the plight of flood victims, Nedbank donated 100 mosquito nets with a value exceeding N$2000 to the Ministry of Health and Social Services yesterday. The blue coloured nets that are treated will be dispatched primarily to flood-affected victims by next week. Handing over the donation Nedbank’s Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications, Rector Mutelo, said this is a token of the banking institution’s social responsibility towards promoting good health among Namibians. “We like to concentrate on projects that develop sustainable self-sufficiency and result in a positive contribution to the national economy in the fields of entrepreneurship, education and health,” said Mutelo. Malaria is one of the world’s most serious diseases and imposes significant economic costs especially on poor people. Incidents of malaria are a common health risk more especially during the rainy season. Regionally, it is further reported that in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, one in ten infant deaths and one in four deaths of children under the age of four years are as a result of malaria. Mutelo added that through partnerships, the country can fight the disease more effectively, failing which the consequences would be fatal. “If we do not battle malaria, then some of the alarming statistics that come out of the 2001 census are going to get worse,” he noted. Some of these figures are that 31 percent of the country’s 1,8 million people are unemployed, 40 000 of them are school-leavers every year and the country is 12th among 50 countries in the world with the lowest life expectancies standing at 44 years. Receiving the mosquito nets, Director of Special Programmes at the Ministry of Health, Ella Shihepo, said once the nets are distributed, people should refrain from using them for fishing and rather use them for their intended purpose. “At the oshanas, men should not use these mosquito nets for fishing, but use them for protecting women and children from malaria,” said Shihepo, adding priority will mainly be given to women, children under five years and people infected with HIV. Early in the year, as part of its annual activity to combat the spread of malaria, health officials sprayed the malaria prone areas of the northern and north-eastern regions of the country. All the 34 health districts are also being strictly monitored on a weekly basis, where special attention is placed on the Ohangwena Region where the number of malaria cases are said to be increasing. Nedbank further pledged to provide more mosquito nets to those in need.