Malaria kills 25 in Mash East
Marondera (New Ziana) – Twenty five people have died of malaria and another 12 000 infected in Mashonaland East province so far this year, a senior provincial health official has said.
Provincial medical director, Simukai Zizhou told New Ziana areas particularly hit by the outbreak were Mudzi, Mutoko and Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe districts.
He said the malaria situation was negatively impacting efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
To date, 12 539 people tested positive for malaria in the province and the highest cases were recorded in Mudzi with 5 334, Mutoko with 4 282 and Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe which had 1925 positive cases.
The least cases were recorded in Seke (12), Goromonzi (46) and Hwedza (60). Chikomba, Marondera and Murehwa recorded 72, 74 and 734 cases respectively.
“We have been putting much of our focus on COVID-19 because it is very lethal, but it does not take away the importance of the other World Health Organization (WHO) programmes like malaria. Actually, we are in a malaria season and we have been recording figures that have been higher than all these other years. The WHO focus for malaria for this year also indicate that this is going to be a very terrible year for us as the figures are likely going to increase significantly in the coming weeks,” Zizhou said.
He added that the situation had been worsened by the fact that frontline treatment workers who are predominantly Village Health Workers normally tasked with carrying out Rapid Diagnostic Tests for malaria are now faced with challenges of moving around doing their job due to COVID-19 pandemic which restricts peoples’ movements.
“That has been a major draw-back even though we are trying our best to mitigate this by providing protective means for our Village Health Workers, mainly sanitizers and face masks so that they are comfortable visiting someone who has a fever. They will also help us in identifying possible cases of COVID-19, because if anyone tests negative to malaria and have a fever, we will then test them for COVID-19,” said Zizhou.
He also expressed concern over the emergence of malaria in non-malaria transmission areas such as Marondera, a problem he attributed to climate change.
“For example, when you look at Marondera, it is considered a non-malaria transmission area, but the situation has changed and we can attribute this to the current weather patterns that we have had this year where rains have been erratic and temperatures having been very high,” Zizhou said.
He said what was also worrying was that the symptoms of malaria and those for Covid-19 were almost the same, the only difference being occurrence of respiratory difficulties and coughing in coronavirus cases.