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Dept to step up malaria campaign

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Over the past fifteen years, SADC countries have made unprecedented progress in the fight against Malaria, decreasing deaths from Malaria by half

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Health is set to intensify its awareness campaign regarding Malaria in the Province.

According to a statement issued by the department, an appeal was made by Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) for the Province to promote the “ZERO Malaria Starts with Me” campaign that aims to keep malaria high on the political agenda, mobilise additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention, treatment and care.

“Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected anopheles’ mosquitoes, which generally bite at night. It is preventable, treatable and curable. In response to the rising cases of Malaria in the region, countries across southern Africa are stepping up commitments to eliminate this disease by 2030,” spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Health, Lebogang Majaha, said.

Malaria is one of the most pressing health issues facing sub-Saharan Africa, with around 90% of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide occurring in Africa. In 2016, there were more than 47 million cases in the SADC region alone, primarily among children under the age of five.

Over the past fifteen years, SADC countries have made unprecedented progress in the fight against Malaria, decreasing deaths from Malaria by half.

However, a number of countries in the region have seen a recent increase in cases. According to the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), which maintains a quarterly scorecard to track national progress on Malaria, four countries in the SADC region are considered off-track and progress in seven additional countries is considered at risk.

Majaha pointed out that while the Northern Cape was not Malaria endemic, proactive programmes were initiated by the department’s environmental health unit to prevent the re-introduction of Malaria in the province.

“The department conducts two Malaria campaigns per year, targeting northern parts of our province,” he said.

“The campaign focuses primarily in the ZF Mgcawu District, wherein vector surveillance is performed on a quarterly basis, as well as identifying breeding places in an area of 400 metres around Upington International Airport to prevent any cases of Malaria due to mosquitoes imported by aircrafts upon arrival from Malaria endemic areas.”

Communities are also urged to be cautious and vigilant at all times, as Malaria can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated at an early stage.