ZIMBABWE recorded 192 malaria deaths in 2018 representing a significant 63 percent drop compared to the previous year.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
A progress in eliminating malaria, the country achieved another feat where malaria cases were reduced by 44 percent in the same period.
“There were 264 278 malaria cases and 192 deaths in Zimbabwe in 2018. This represents a substantial decline from the previous year: a 44 percent reduction in cases and a 63 percent reduction in deaths,” said the ministry.
This feat could not have been achieved without the assistance of the USAID, Centre for Disease Control, Global Fund alongside Zimbabwe’s National Malaria Control Program (NMCP). Through USAID, the United States President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) has provided over US$105 million in treating and preventing malaria.
“The United States is proud to collaborate with the National Malaria Control Program to contribute to this exciting success,” said the United States Government in a statement.
Having sprayed houses over 350 000 Zimbabweans to reduce malaria deaths and illnesses, about 10 000 village health workers have been trained by USAID in malaria case management.
“Malaria has long threatened the people of Zimbabwe but the data show a notable decline in malaria cases and deaths. USAID is proud to be a partner in such impressive progress,” USAID Mission Director Stephanie Funk said.
Since 2010, Zimbabwe saw a 57 percent reduction of confirmed malaria cases from 617 175 in 2010 to 264 278 cases in 2018 with deaths dropping by 38 percent to 192 compared to 310 eight years ago.
Rapid decline in malaria incidence has been more marked from the south-western regions to the central parts of the country.
“This decline has seen the country implement pre-elimination activities in 7 districts in Matabeleland South province in 2012, and by 2018 the districts had increased to 28,” said the Ministry in a statement.
However, the burden of malaria remains high in the border districts of the country particularly those along the Mozambican border, with Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central provinces being the most affected.
Last month, the Global Fund gave E8 countries a US$12 million grant for the fight against malaria.
The E8 regional grant has also facilitated the setting up of 5 static clinics along the border with Mozambique and South African to increase access to health services by mobile and cross border.
During the period 2010 to 2018, 47 malaria receptive districts in the country have been sprayed consistently with effective insecticides thereby protecting more than 7 million people residing in these districts annually from malaria.
A total of 6,161 million nets have been distributed for free to communities residing in malaria risk areas between 2010 and 2018.
“All health facilities have been well stocked with malaria test kits as well as effective anti-malaria medicines; and health workers, village health workers and school health coordinators are regularly trained on the correct management of malaria. This has enabled communities to access treatment services early and closer to their homes,” said the Health Ministry. “The contributions of the community health workers have been significant and they include reducing workload in rural health facilities and improved access to treatment in the community. Approximately 38% of the malaria cases are treated by the community health workers.”
Recently, Manicaland Provincial Medical Director, Patron Mafaune was quoted saying the ministry was on an initiative of providing mosquito nets to be able to fight the disease in the Cyclone Idai hit areas.
However, Mafaune said there was need for mosquito larvicides to eliminate immature mosquitoes.
“What we currently require are larvicides so that we can treat the mosquito breeding sites as well as mosquito repellents so that our community can even become better protected,” she said.
She also said the situation will require months of vigilant monitoring before Zimbabwe can declare it is free of the dreaded disease.