Child deaths make 20% of malaria fatalities

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Pic by Mashable.com

A FIFTH of the total number of malaria deaths in the country involves children under the age of five because of their immune system is still vulnerable, statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care show.

PHYLLIS MBANJE
Staff reporter

The Health ministry in the latest report said of the over 20 000 cases of malaria recorded for the week ending May 19 this year, 3 200 were children under the age of five.

Of the 20 malaria deaths in the same period, four were children.

Malaria is the third highest killer of children in the country. Efforts to contain the disease are hampered by limited resources and lack of awareness especially in the rural areas.

Ministry of Health national malaria control manager Joseph Mberikwazo said children were most affected because of their vulnerability and little knowledge on management of the disease.

“Children have less resistance because their immunity is still developing and so they cannot fight off the disease as much as adults,” he said. “There is need for more education especially in the rural areas where access to information is a challenge.”

Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicate that since the beginning of the year, over 300 000 cases of malaria have been recorded in the country.

Almost half of Zimbabwe’s population lives in malaria-prone areas and past efforts to control the disease have been hampered by the parasite’s growing resistance to available drugs.

There is, however, relatively no malaria transmission in the high altitude areas in the centre band of the country.

“Among other methods that are being used to aggressively address this situation by the ministry and partners like Global Fund include the use of insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying (IRS),” said Mberikwazvo.

Zimbabwe has a history of IRS dating back to the 1950s.

The Global Fund has pledged to support cross-border malaria initiatives, while the International Organisation for Migration assists with resource mobilisation targeting immigrants.

The country has also joined regional collaborative efforts like the Regional Network on Roll Back Malaria Partnership and last year signed the Zam-Zim Malaria Initiative with Zambia.

Zimbabwe has reduced malaria morbidity from two million cases recorded annually in the early 2000s to less than 350 000 cases per year by 2011.

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