Malaria could hit Zim

20 Jan 2009
The Citizen
Zimbabweans face a potential malaria outbreak this year with 1,63 million people at risk of contracting the disease.

According to the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership, a global public-private partnership aimed at fighting malaria, an outbreak may become a reality due to health teams being diverted to control the cholera outbreak, no Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) or Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN's) were rolled out.

In 2007-2008, a total of 322 278 households representing over 1,6 million people were covered by IRS.

Herve Verhoosel of the RBM Partnership said: "In the current transmission season, IRS has not taken place, leaving at least 1,63 million people at higher risk of malaria."

He said the current heavy rains made the proliferation of mosquitoes more likely coupled with former malaria control successes leaving the population with low immunity in terms of being vulnerable to outbreaks.

"In addition, the surveillance system which helped to monitor and control epidemics has broken down throughout much of the country.

"Large malaria outbreaks could therefore take hold rapidly and claim many victims before the necessary steps can be put in place to halt the spread of the disease.

"RBM Partnership is in touch with agencies on the ground to be ready to respond to the country's needs once identified," he said.,1,22