Namibia remains at high risk of malaria: Kamwi

25 Apr 2014 14:00pm
OSHIKANGO, 25 APR (NAMPA) - The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi says although Namibia has recorded a decrease in malaria cases and deaths, the country remains more than 90 per cent at risk of the disease.
Kamwi said this on Thursday during the belated commemoration of World Malaria Day at the Oshikango suburb of the northern border town of Helao Nafidi in the Ohangwena Region.
He pointed out that 1 747 malaria deaths were recorded in Namibia in 2001, but it gradually decreased to just 20 deaths last year.
However, the health and social services minister expressed concern that eight cases of malaria deaths have already been recorded in Namibia this year and this is because of the country’s vulnerability to malaria infection.
Kamwi also noted that the 562 703 cases of malaria infection recorded in 2001 significantly decreased to 4 695 cases last year.
“Despite this national trend, we are still experiencing an upsurge of malaria cases and deaths in some of our border districts such as Katima Mulilo, Andara, Nyangana and Engela,” he said.
He went on to say it is also in these communities that large numbers of people are refusing the ministry’s indoor residual spraying programme.
“The national prevalence for schistosomiasis (bilharzia) in Namibia is estimated at 11 per cent, with the highest prevalence of 28 per cent recorded in the Kavango Regions,” Kamwi told his audience.
He then stated that Government, through his ministry, has procured around 400 000 mosquito nets to be distributed to persons residing in malaria-prone regions.
Children under the age of five and expecting mothers are the preferred beneficiaries for nets.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Namibia, Dr Monir Islam, also addressed the commemoration and revealed that over 200 million cases and an estimated 672 000 malaria deaths were reported in 2012 globally.
“However, through collaborative efforts and enhanced measures, malaria mortality rates have fallen by 42 per cent globally since 2000, and by 49 per cent in the WHO African Region, which is a positive achievement,” he noted.
According to Islam, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland are the four southern African countries that have the potential to eliminate malaria.
This, Islam said, is because of significant progress observed in the reduction of the malaria burden over the past few years in the four Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.