Malaria has killed over 60 this year

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Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Windhoek-About 38,243 people have contacted malaria since January and at least 63 people have died of the disease over the same period.

Updating parliamentarians on the post mortem conducted in the aftermath of the malaria outbreak in the first half of 2017, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services Juliet Kavetuna Kavetuna said they recorded a 51 percent decline in deaths from malaria compared to same period in 2016.

She said the outbreak was first detected in Kavango East and West, Zambezi, and Ohangwena regions, and in response the ministry embarked on robust campaign in the affected areas, using a strategy of mass testing and treatment, mop-ups, house spraying and social mobilisation.

Kavetuna blamed the transborder importation of malaria parasites from neighbouring countries, particularly Angola, as the major contributing factor to the 2017 outbreak of the epidemic.

She said her ministry has begun to re-vitalise its relationship with her Angolan counterpart to tackle the issue. “I had meetings with my Angolan counterpart and jointly [commemorated] Malaria Day on both sides of the borders to raise awareness,” she told lawmakers.

Kavetuna added that a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) on crossborder collaboration is ready for submission to the Office of the Attorney General and development partners have been sensitised to the need to support Angola with an effective malaria control programme.

Going forward, she said, the 2017 outbreak illustrates that vector control, particularly Indoor Residual Spaying (IRS), must be adequately funded annually to achieve high coverage in all targeted areas.

“I have already indicated to cabinet that an additional N$12.3 million for an effective malaria response for 2017/18 will be required,” she said, adding that spray operators’ training will begin in September, with spray operations ending no later than November 30, so as to provide maximum protection during the transmission season.

The deputy minister of health said logistical arrangements – including the procurement of insecticides and equipment – have been planned for and structures to implement and monitor have been established.

In Namibia the malaria transmission cycle begins in December and peaks in early April, after which transmission tends to decline.

Some drivers of the outbreak include vector control gaps, particularly related to the availability of financial and human resource for IRS, resulting in inadequate prioritisation of spray targets and supervision of spray terms.

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