Although malaria is preventable and curable, the disease remains the number one killer of children and pregnant woman in sub-Saharan Africa, and Namibia is no exception.
Permanent Secretary of Health and Social Services Kahijoro Kahuure in a recent press statement said everyone should take steps to protect themselves from malaria. Such steps include "making sure that houses in malaria areas are sprayed with insecticide against mosquitoes and that people sleep under insecticide treated mosquito nets to avoid mosquito bites".
Other preventative measures include taking anti-malarial tablets for protection when visiting malaria prone areas as well as seeking treatment immediately if fever any other signs and symptoms of malaria develop. Kahuure said this during the commemoration of SADC Malaria Day last Friday.
Malaria Day, on November 9, is a designated annual event with the event this year held under the theme: "Leadership and Partnership in Malaria Vector Control or Economic Development". The slogan for this year is "Malaria Vector Control at Scale." Every year, countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), including Namibia, organise a regional Malaria Day to remind stakeholders about the fight against malaria.
Such stakeholders include communities, line ministries, regional councils, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and development partners. Usually, the month of November coincides with the start of the rainy season in the SADC region, resulting in more mosquitoes and therefore a higher risk of malaria infection.
Namibia is doing its part to implement a full-scale vector control programme for this malaria prone season. This is being done through strategies to prevent malaria epidemics during the rainy season. The programme is being applied in all malaria-affected regions namely the Caprivi, Kavango, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Oshana, Omusati, Kunene, Otjozondjupa (North of Otjiwarongo and Omaheke (north of Epukiro).
Through its National Malaria Control Programme, the Ministry of Health ensures spraying of all targeted houses in malaria-affected area is completed and insecticide treated mosquito nets are distributed to especially pregnant mothers and children under the age of five. The programmes also ensures that education campaigns on malaria are in place to educate the public about malaria, while providing training to health personnel on how to manage the medicines and on how to respond to any possible epidemics in the country.
In Southern Africa, malaria kills over 200 000 people every year. There is high transmission of the disease in the region mainly between January and May each year. As rain intensifies, cases of malaria may also increase rapidly.