MALARIA REMAINS A THREAT IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
July 7 09:17
HARARE (Zimbabwe),Ministers of Health from Malaria-Endemic Countries meeting in Zimbabwe have adopted the Victoria Falls Declaration in which they commit to eliminate and expand Malaria control to hard-to-reach communities.
The Health ministers mainly from SADC countries recognized that Malaria continues to be an obstacle to economic progress. Of the 600,000 global malaria deaths every year, 90% occur in Africa. SADC has committed to eliminating Malaria by 2015. Deputy Health minister Joe Phaahla says they are working with neighbouring countries Swaziland and Mozambique in terms of collaboration, "because as everybody knows mosquitoes don’t need passports".
“We are still focussing on 2015 and that is why in South Africa, the prevalence rates are insignificant and we need to go beyond our borders. In South Africa we still think we can make it for 2015 but it is going to be determined by that collaboration." Malaria remains a health threat to millions of people living in Southern Africa and advocacy groups say greater regional cooperation will be needed to eliminate the disease. Roll Back Malaria a partnership of organisations says 200,000 people continue to die from the disease in Southern African each year. It says the occurrence remains unacceptably high even in Southern Africa.
Executive Director Roll Back Malaria, Dr Kaka Mudambo says, "Low endemic countries have reached the stage of four per thousands, and in some zero cases of deaths; and those countries which are between zero and fifty and then we have the DRC where you still get a lot of malaria may be three hundred to four
hundred per thousand.” Malaria is the second biggest killer in Africa. It's a treatable and preventable
disease but the mosquito borne parasite kills close to five hundred million Africans each year mostly children under the age of five. Despite an overall reduction in infections over the last ten years, migration
experts worry it’s making a comeback in new ways. According to international Organisation for Migration, one in seven people is a migrant.
It believes that increase in the cross border travel and rural and urban migrations within Southern Africa poses one most serious challenge to controlling and eliminating the disease. “More and more people moving in countries that managed to control and eliminate malaria, we are seeing that those countries are having cases we call it imported malaria because people are moving from endemic communities to low endemic areas. It's one of the main challenges we are facing," Regional Migration and Health co-ordinator International Organisation for Migration, Erick Ventura explains.
“When people move they may be moving with parasites and the countries coming together and ensuring that all the people who travel are well informed of the malaria and everywhere they travel they can seek treatment,” adds Mudambo. Roll back Malaria is calling for border screenings that will establish the burden of Malaria that is passing through the regions borders to understand which forms are being carried across and which regions they are coming from.