WHO CALLS ON ZIMBABWE TO STEP UP EFFORTS TO ERADICATE MALARIA

HARARE, April 24 — The World Health Organziation (WHO) has called on Zimbabwe to scale up the use of interventions targeted at eliminating malaria in order to completely eradicate the disease, says the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

In a statement issued here to mark World Malaria Day on Friday, Dr Moeti said the major issue for malaria control in Zimbabwe was to fully implement pre-elimination measures so that the country could reach the malaria elimination phase.

“This is through prompt diagnosis and treatment of all positive cases with effective artemisinin based combination therapy, use of indoor residual spraying and long lasting insecticidal treated nets in malaria high transmission areas and closely monitoring the development of vector resistance to insecticides as well as parasite resistance to ACTs,” she added.

In Zimbabwe, malaria is mainly seasonal and confined to the border areas where water bodies provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The country experiences malaria outbreaks mainly during the rainy season.

Dr Moeti urged all countries and stakeholders in the region to focus on targeting available resources at places where the burden of malaria is highest and at people and groups who face the highest risk of malaria.

“Increased malaria funding is needed in order to save lives and further expand access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services in the region. This is even more critical given the urgent need to tackle malaria drug-resistance and other emerging threats, such as mosquito resistance to insecticides,” she said.

Dr Moeti said limited access to and under-utilization of available malaria interventions within countries are the major causes of excessively high burdens of malaria cases and deaths. For instance in 2013, 33 per cent of households in the region still did not own even a single long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN) and only 29 per cent of households had enough LLINs for all household members.

“As we commemorate World Malaria Day, I call upon countries and stakeholders to focus on targeting available resources at places where the burden of malaria is highest and at the people and groups who face
the highest risk of malaria,” said Dr Moeti.

“I would also like to urge countries and stakeholders to invest in national and community systems in order to test every suspected case of malaria before administering treatment.”

In 2013, an estimated 163 million cases of malaria occurred in the African region causing approximately 528,000 deaths. Between 2000 and 2013, the estimated number of malaria cases in the at-risk population declined by 34 per cent while malaria death rates declined by 54 per cent in the African Region.

In spite of this progress, countries in the region are not likely to attain the World Health Assembly target of a 75 per cent reduction in malaria cases and deaths by 2015. On 25 April 2015 the world commemorates World Malaria Day under the theme, “Invest in the future. Defeat malaria”.

The theme highlights the need for increased financial and human resources, commodities and infrastructural investments to control and eliminate this life-threatening disease.

Malaria can be prevented or controlled through the use of LLINs, indoor residual spraying (IRS), preventive therapies for pregnant women, children under five and infants, as well as quality-assured diagnostic testing and treatment. Most malaria prone countries are still far from achieving universal coverage of these malaria interventions.

SOURCE: NEW ZIANA

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