Beitbridge Hit By Malaria Outbreak

Thupeyo Muleya | 12 Apr 2008
Herald (Harare)
AFM note: AFM has, for some time, highlighted the healthcare crisis in Zimbabwe. This story from The Herald confirms the health disaster as malaria is claiming lives in the Beitbridge area - close to the border with South Africa. Malaria was once controlled very well in Zimbabwe, but Mugabe has created a political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe that now threatens the entire region.

Beitbridge district has been hit by a serious malaria outbreak which has so far killed 10 people in the western part of the border town, an official has said.

In an interview yesterday, Matabeleland South provincial medical director Dr Jabulani Ndlovu said they have recorded a total of 3 045 clinical cases since late last month. He said the severe malaria had spread in the whole of Beitbridge district and some parts of Gwanda South.

Dr Ndlovu said that they were now working on contingent measures to combat the disease. He said that so far equipment had been distributed to all seven districts in Matabeleland South in anticipation of more cases. "We have recorded notable deaths as a result of the disease from the 25th of February to date. The most affected areas are those in Beitbridge West (Makakavhule, Majini, Zezani, Tongwe, Nhwali) and some parts of the town."

So far we have attended to 3 045 cases since the epidemic broke out in the last three weeks. "However, we have come up with contingent measures to combat malaria before it claims more lives," he said. Resettlement areas and those bordering with Chiredzi and Mwenezi districts in Masvingo province were also affected. He said through assistance from Government the department had since mobilised enough resources including fuel and essential drugs. Dr Ndlovu said their main hindrance in dealing with the problem was the shortage of reliable vehicles, motorcycles to conduct research and distribute drugs. "Our spraying programme did not cover much ground hence the severe malaria outbreak and also we did not expect the disease to be a problem as early as this." He said the epidemic was precipitated by the heavy rains, which pounded the district last year. Dr Ndlovu said that the fight against the disease was also being hampered by patients from remote areas who seek medical assistance when the disease is at an advanced stage.

He urged people to report any suspected malaria cases early. Dr Ndlovu added that people should make use of mosquito repellents, coils and nets as well as clean up all mosquito-breeding areas. He said teams had since been dispatched to alert people about the outbreak.