By Reagan Malumo
Namibia has seen major achievements in rolling back malaria in Africa with a record 181 morbidity and mortality rate compared to the 1 200 target set out in the Abuja declaration.
As set out in the declaration on April 25 2000, African leaders have only two years to complete the race on rolling back malaria on the continent.
The declaration commits African countries to reach that target on malaria prevention and control by 2010.
To spur this initiative, SADC countries have chosen to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day in style under the theme “Malaria: A Disease without Borders – United to Combat Malaria”.
A regional commemoration which took place in Lusaka, Zambia was preceded by an ongoing anti-malaria expedition campaign along the Zambezi River, otherwise referred to as the “River of Life Expedition” that spans a distance of over 2 500 kilometres. This is a joint campaign between Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The campaign aims at building awareness on critical needs of the Trans-Zambezi regional initiative to move towards malaria elimination within the region, and to highlight successes and challenges along the Zambezi River in the six malaria epidemic countries.
It also forges ways to mobilize communities to engage in the Trans-Zambezi regional initiative as well as to ensure international awareness and commitment towards the initiative.
The well-coordinated initiative saw the arrival of the “River of Life Expedition” crew at Namibia’s Caprivi region last week.
Caprivi being the region hard hit by malaria in the country, its governor Leonard Mwilima said that over the years, malaria control and prevention has been a story of triumph and struggle, thus there is a need to grasp the world’s attention and engage the global community in becoming part of the malaria solution.
Mwilima called on government agencies, multilateral and bilateral donors, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, regional and local authorities and communities to join efforts in this endeavour.
He said Namibia particularly the Caprivi has seen much hospital outpatient treatment of malaria every year. Last year, the region recorded 36 percent outpatient malaria cases, 15 percent admission cases and 24 percent malaria related deaths.
He urged African countries to intensify the provision of education and understanding of malaria, to spread information on national malaria prevention control strategies and finally mobilize community-based activities for malaria prevention and control.
“I would like to remind our communities that malaria is still the number one killer disease in children under the age of five,” Mwilima said. He advised people to sleep under treated mosquito nets and access the nearest health facilities when they suspect they have contracted malaria.
Malaria symptoms include fever with one or more of rigours and chills, loss of appetite, vomiting, headache, general body myalgia, and diarrhoea.
Symptoms such as general irritability, excessive crying and coughs are more evident in children.