HEALTH and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo says his ministry will be distributing personal protective equipment for village health workers for protection against the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) when screening and or monitoring patients with malaria.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
He said this as Zimbabwe commemorates World Malaria Day themed ‘Zero Malaria Begins With Me’.
Malaria has similar signs and symptoms as COVID-19 hence Dr Moyo said Government does not want to take chances by leaving these health workers’ in harms way.
In the current situation where the country is also battling the spread of COVID-19, the Health Ministry is working on modalities to have the Village Health Workers supplied with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and Clothing to enable them to safely continue to test and treat malaria within the villages. This ensures early treatment is facilitated and deaths averted,” the Minister said.
The Minister added, “The appropriateness of this theme cannot be overly emphasised as the fight against malaria needs a united front and the realisation that ongoing efforts to prevent further spread of COVID-19 through promoting social distancing and restricting movement of people (unless special clearance is given), amongst other measures, though noble, have contributed to the delays in accessing malaria testing and treatment services especially in remote areas.
Furthermore, the unavailability of adequate appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and Clothing (PPEC) for the frontline health workers including community based health workers, has resulted in them finding it difficult to comprehensively (examining and testing the patient for malaria) attend to patients with signs and symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 timeously.”
According to Dr Moyo, the cumulative malaria cases and deaths in the country from January 1 to April 23, 2020 increases from 117 715 cases and 127 deaths in 2019 to 203 694 cases and 205 deaths in 2020 an increase of 59, 8 percent and 86, 6 percent cases and deaths respectively.
With the peak malaria transmission being March and end of May on the back of stagnant water bodies, malaria accounts for between 30 to 50 percent of outpatient attendances in the high transmissiom districts along borders with Zambia and Mozambique.
Malaria symptoms include fever, headache, hot and cold spells suchbas sweating, chills and shivering, joint pains and general body weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomoting and or diarrhoea.
“Anyone experiencing these signs and symptoms should go for testing treatment within 24 Hours of onset. Delays in seeking treatment for malaria leads to severe disease which may lead to death,” said Dr Moyo who chairs the Malaria Elimination Eight (E8) Ministerial Committee.
“The E8 has mobilised over USD40 million in cash and kind with the main funders being the Global Fund, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Global Health Group.”
Government on Wednesday received a batch of PPECs worth over USD16 000 for the fight against COVID-19 from the World Health Organisation.