HEALTH and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa has expressed concern over the re-emergence of the drug-resistant malaria vector, Anopheles Funestus, which he said was likely reverse all the gains made towards eradicating the killer disease.
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Officially opening the annual malaria conference in Kadoma yesterday, Parirenyatwa said the disease was prevalent in the new resettlement areas and along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border.
“This scenario, coupled with other climatic and socio-economic factors, saw our malaria incidence rate increase by 32% to 29 cases per 1 000 population in 2013,” Parirenyatwa said.
He added: “Even more worrying is the fact that to date we have recorded a cumulative total of 481 088 malaria cases and 601 deaths from the 1st of January to the end of August 2014 compared to 382 008 cases and 322 deaths recorded over the same period last year, demonstrating a further significant increase.”
Parirenyatwa said the increase could have been caused by lack of resources which delayed spraying in most parts of high-loaded areas. But provincial reports also showed that political interference in provinces like Masvingo and Mashonaland Central compounded the problem with government’s centralised malaria budget further complicating malaria control programmes.
He said his ministry would soon launch the Malaria Business Plan for 2015 to 2017 whose objective would be to rope in the private sector and non-traditional malaria partners.
Speaking at the same occasion, National Malaria Control Programme manager Joseph Mberikunashe said about 35% of the recorded malaria cases were of Mozambican nationals living along the border area.
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“Our facilities are close to their communities. We spray here, we give nets, but across the border in Mozambique it is not happening, it could be issues of funding and other issues.
“While our people are prevented (sic), protected, our counterparts are not and they come here for treatment and cases are not coming down because of these cross-border treatments,” Mberikunashe said.
In a speech read on his behalf, World Health Organisation representative to Zimbabwe, David Okello, said: “The issue of cross-border collaboration remains key in the success of any disease control programme. It would have been very beneficial to have representatives from neighbouring countries attending this annual conference to share ideas and identify areas that require strengthening.”’ According to health experts malaria kills between 300 000 and 400 000 each year in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, the latest disease surveillance report says common diarrhoea has claimed 603 lives since the beginning of this year, 18 of them in one week.