SADC Military Tackles Malaria

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By Francis Tsawayo WINDHOEK The 2nd SADC Military Health Service (MHS) Malaria Manager’s Meeting, that deliberated on ways of strengthening joint collaborations and partnerships in the fight against malaria in the region, concluded yesterday. Delegates at the three-day workshop resolved that the SADC MHS Newsletter be established with the first to be produced after the meeting. The composition and coordination mechanisms for a rapid response team were established along with provision for military health intelligence to be set up by all MHS’s, with regular communication facilitating updates on the state of the disease in the region and during military operations. The SADC MHS is to be represented at the SADC planning level and all military health services will support Namibia through participation in the 2006 SADC malaria week launch of the SADC cross-border elimination initiative by SADC health ministers, to be held in Ondangwa on November 10 this year. Under the theme SADC Military Health Services Moving from Awareness to Action on the Cross-border Malaria Initiative, delegates from 12 SADC countries, with the DRC and Mozambique absent, discussed several issues, namely, the current state of malaria in SADC, the role laboratories in malaria control play, emergency preparedness, the state of malaria control programs in the countries’ defence forces and the state of malaria in Southern Africa and the role of vector control, among others. Speaking at the closing ceremony, Chief of Staff: Personnel, Brigadier General Athanacius Chimwandi said malaria had become a global economic challenge which required consolidated efforts and well organised leadership to control, urging military leaders to take a serious stance regarding the protection of soldiers against malaria both during peace and during operations. “The military has to play a role in supporting the National Malaria Control Programme activities,” Chimwandi urged. “Act now and not later,” Chimwandi added, urging the delegates to return to their home countries and implement the resolutions agreed upon for the common cause of alleviating the malaria threat in the region. Also attending the meeting was Dean of Military advisors in Namibia, Colonel Francis Mfula, Brigadier General Manuel Da Conceicao, and military attaches from embassies and high commissioners in Namibia, representatives of WHO and other organisations from the SADC region. The military managers’ meeting followed the first one held in Angola, Luanda, in July 2004.