Mash East on malaria high alert

HARARE - The Health ministry has detected insecticide-resistant mosquitoes in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East, raising concern that malaria could become difficult to control.

This comes as government recently issued a malaria alert after a total of 154 malaria cases were reported throughout the country as of March 26, 2017.

Giving oral evidence to Parliament’s Health portfolio committee, Health ministry secretary Gerald Gwinji said they were moving to identify other areas with resistant mosquitoes. “There are also areas where we have detected resistance by the mosquitoes to certain insecticides we spray,” he said.

“Our specialists have gone into Goromonzi to try and identify the type of mosquitoes that are there and what they are responding to.”

Gwinji said areas reported to have outbreaks were former commercial farms and were deemed as private property.

“The ministry would not necessarily move in unless allowed. In the past two years, we have increased the areas that are sprayed in Goromonzi,” he said, adding that “areas sprayed are households that are amenable to spraying”.

“There are certain structures which only have poles and a roof and those cannot be sprayed and people are only given bed nets. There is no surface for the chemical to hold,” Gwinji said.

The permanent secretary said former pigsties which cannot be sprayed are also part of the cause of the malaria outbreak in Goromonzi.

He said the movement of workers poses a challenge because they move with their nets, leaving the new workers with nothing.

Gwinji, however, emphasised that the structures that temporary workers live in are difficult to contain the spread of malaria.

“The farm structures are a challenge because in the farms that we visited, they are converting pigsties into dormitories for these temporary workers. We cannot spray that because it is open and what we have recommended to the province is to move around, look at those structures and recommend to farmers to put up mosquito mesh to at least keep the mosquitoes out, while allowing for it to be sprayed,” he said.

MDC Matabeleland legislator and Health committee chairperson Ruth Labode said the ministry should not allow new farmers to let people live in pigsties.

“We cannot allow new farmers to abuse people like that. We cannot say that now the farm is owned by a black person, you can live like this. If you do not have the pigs, then you cannot put human beings in there. It is very disappointing,” she said, adding that such structures should be demolished.

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