mosquitos.jpgMalaria claims thousands of lives in Africa every year and is the 2nd most deadly killer disease after HIV AND Aids in Zimbabwe.

This year alone, Zimbabwe has lost more than 300 people, while thousands more have suffered from this deadly disease, which mostly affects the tropics.

 

Every rain season, Zimbabwe and other tropical countries have to deal with the problem of malaria and save thousands of lives by taking malaria prevention measures such as embarking on residual spraying on mosquito breeding places, providing nets and chemicals before the malaria peak season.

 

However, reports have indicated that this year, Zimbabwe might fail to achieve the 2010 Abuja target of reducing malaria cases by half from 136 cases per every 1000 people to 68 cases per 1000 people by the end of this year.

 

This has been attributed to some logistical challenges in the delivery of drugs and commodities.

 

Currently, the country has a case prevalence rate of 93 cases per every 1000 people and reports suggest that mosquitoes are increasingly becoming resistant to existing malaria drugs and with an effective vaccine considered years away, focus has been put more on prevention.

 

Recently, Government revealed that the indoor residual spraying, which commenced in October and was supposed to end before January next year, will delay and spill over to next year due to some logistical problems and the procurement of chemicals and other sundries from outside the country.

 

Only Mashonaland Central appears to be on track to meet the December target.

 

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Gerald Gwinji said despite the challenges, officials from his ministry are working with the aim to finish the residual spraying and the distribution of nets before the peak period next year.

“We are currently spraying in various parts of the country, especially where malaria is more prevalent. We hope to be done with the process before March next year,” said Dr Gwinji.

 

Campaigns have also been intensified in areas such as Binga, Mbire and other low lying areas, which are the most affected.

Commenting on the use of DDT, a chemical which was once banned, Dr Gwinji said they are spraying the chemical indoors as it is effective and will ensure that it is used properly since it is not environmentally friendly.

 

National Malaria Control Programme Manager, Dr Joseph Mberikunashe said the malaria peak period is between March and May and through the funds that were allocated to Government in the Global Fund round 8, about 1,2 million treated nets were bought and more than 800 have been distributed.

 

In urban areas, malaria cases are also common and this is mainly caused by uncollected garbage and stagnant water due to poor drainage.

Harare residents who spoke to ZBC News reiterated the need for the government to come up with preventive measures in urban areas as they are also at risk of contracting the disease.

 

Malaria is a serious health threat in Zimbabwe, after HIV and AIDS and is the biggest killer of children under 5 years of age.

 

The estimated 1 million cases of malaria each year in Zimbabwe are also a serious threat to pregnant women and newborn babies.