Malaria wipes out 21 in one week

HARARE - At least 100 people have succumbed to malaria since January, with over a fifth of the deaths recorded last week alone.

Officials say the majority of the cases were recorded in Manicaland Province.

Statistics just released by the ministry of Health and Child Welfare show that about 200 000 malaria cases have been reported since the beginning of the year.

According to the statistics, 19 536 cases and 21 deaths were recorded last week alone.

“Of the cases reported 3 417 (17,5 percent) and five deaths were (people) under the age of five years,” reads the report.

Mutare was the most affected with six deaths, followed by Chimanimani, which recorded three deaths last week.

“The provinces which reported the highest number of malaria cases were Manicaland (8 393) and Mashonaland Central (4 409),” reads the report.

Mutoko, Buhera and Makonde were third highest with two fatalities each. In Harare two people died, one at Harare Hospital and another at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

Mwenezi, Chiredzi, Chirimhanzu and Bindura recorded one death each.

Officials say while government and other stakeholders have been focussing on issues such as HIV and cholera, malaria is fast growing into a silent killer.

Donors under the Global Fund have for the past decade dedicated a fund for malaria prevention and treatment. Reports suggest government and development partners have distributed over 20 000 mosquito nets in the most vulnerable areas recently.

But this could be too little for a country with a population of over 12 million spread across provinces which are vulnerable to the disease.

Figures show that malaria cases are on the rise.

The 13th week of 2012 had about 12 000 cases reported compared to this year’s 20 000.

In the first quarter of 2009, 329 people were killed by the disease from 267 396 reported cases.

Zimbabwe’s health sector is suffering from funding shortages following a decade of political and economic turmoil that resulted in some hospitals being shut while prevention and treatment programmes received a knock.

Many of the institutions have since opened after the formation of a coalition government in 2009, with donors providing most of the funding as government struggles with underfunding and what many see as warped prioritisation of available resources.

In the case of malaria, some health experts argue that communities can help combat the disease if they become keen on self-care.

A study last year by the programme manager for non communicable diseases, Lillian Muchena examining the relationship between Malaria prevention and cleanliness affirmed the effectiveness of good self-care. - Wendy Muperi

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