The Sunday News
Nokukhanya Moyo, Sunday News Reporter
MORE than 170 people have died of malaria since the beginning of the year while more than 100 000 cases of the disease have been recorded throughout the country, an official said.
The malaria cases have increased this year compared to last year because of high rainfall occurrence according to the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
National malaria co-ordinator Dr Joseph Mberikunashe confirmed the deaths in an interview saying they recorded 173 deaths and 119 000 malaria cases countrywide since the beginning of the year.
He called on people living in malaria-endemic areas to ensure that their homes were sprayed at regular intervals against mosquitoes. He said they should also make use of treated mosquito nets to protect themselves from malaria.
Dr Mberikunashe said while most mosquito parasites were being washed away by the rains, concerns remained on the ponds of water which provide conducive breeding environment for mosquitos.
“We are concerned that while the rains may have stopped, these ponds will provide an environment that is conducive for mosquito breeding and this could lead to increased cases of malaria,” said Dr Mberikunashe.
He said the national malaria programme ran a risk of not providing the envisaged positive results should communities fail to take necessary preventive measures in view of the incessant rains.
“People should be responsible and make efforts to curb outbreaks. As the Government, we are on high alert, especially in the country’s malaria endemic areas such as Chipinge, Mashonaland Central and Chiredzi,” he said.
According to the Southern African Development Community regional early warning bulletin for 2016/17 rainy season, surface water stagnation and flooding increases the risk of not only malaria, but water borne diseases.
“Flooding due to too much stagnant water increases the chances of water borne diseases such as cholera and other diarrhoeal illnesses. There is also the increase of rodent borne diseases such as vector borne diseases like malaria.”
Dr Mberikunashe said people should prevent malaria adding that the disease was curable when people report it early.
“People should stop going to prophets because no prophet can give malaria treatment, they should stop wasting their time,” he said.
He said people should seek early treatment from the nearest clinics in their respective areas around the country.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease typically transmitted through bites by an infected anopheles mosquito.
Known signs and symptoms of malaria include vomiting, profuse sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, anaemia, headache, high fever and shaking chills that range from moderate to severe among others.
Malaria is caused by a type of mosquito known as anopheles. In the early 2000s the country used to record up to two million cases of malaria every year with about 5 000 deaths but the numbers have decreased drastically as a number of initiatives were put in place by the Government to fight the disease.