Windhoek – At least 6 500 cases of malaria have been reported in the northern regions of the country, where an outbreak is currently being experienced.
The hardest hit regions are Ohangwena, Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi, Minister of Health and Social Services Bernard Haufiku said yesterday.
Kavango East and Kavango West recorded 3 881 cases since January to Friday last week. Zambezi recorded 546, while Engela in Ohangwena recorded 490 cases.
In the two Kavango regions 13 people died of malaria while in Ohangwena nine people died of the disease, said Haufiku.
“We seem to be challenged by infectious diseases,” he said, adding that there is Congo Fever on the one hand with an outbreak of malaria on the other.
Namibia has previously been hailed for doing relatively well in the fight against malaria. Malaria claimed about 7 000 lives at independence but just 10 deaths in 2013.
Because of concerted scientific efforts by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Namibia reduced malaria cases by over 90 percent in 2012.
Less than 3 000 cases and only 10 deaths were reported at the closeof 2013 in sharp contrast to the about 7 000 lives lost at independence in 1990.
“This is not the first time we get a malaria outbreak. We get it from time to time and this year it’s complicated by floods,” said Haufiku.
The minister admitted that with the floods there is a looming disaster. However, regional teams supported by the national malaria programme’s technical staff are currently deployed in the regions to perform active outbreak response, explained the minister.
Haufiku said strategies involve teams being deployed at village level for early diagnosis and treatment as well as appropriate vector control to suppress the vector mosquito population.
“We will be moving with testing kits and thermometers and those with temperatures, we will do the test and treat them if they have malaria.”
He further said that services would be brought to village level to ensure high coverage and mitigation of the outbreak.
The idea is to prevent people from flocking to hospitals and health facilities as this may overwhelm staff, considering the magnitude of the outbreak, he added.
“At the same time education will take place [at the affected areas].”
The minister also said “it is important that you do not wait if you feel sick. When symptoms arise, care should be sought immediately at the nearest clinic, health centre or hospital.”