From Tariro Sajeni
ZIMBABWE has seen a huge spike in malaria deaths and cases this year, and the situation has been exacerbated by similarities in disease symptoms to those of Covid-19, the Daily News can report.
From January 1 to November 31, at least 392 people succumbed to malaria while the country recorded 389 101 cases.
This represents an increase of 47 percent in the 245,660 cases reported in the same period last year. John Mangwiro, deputy health minister, said yesterday during an event to commemorate Sadc Malaria Day in Harare that travel restrictions caused by Covid-19 had affected the fight against malaria.
The lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers and health workers in the community resulted in their inability to access patients.
“Promoting measures to prevent the further spread of Covid-19, including social distancing and restricting the free movement of people, although noble, contributed to delays in access to malaria testing and treatment services, especially in remote areas, as well led to an increase in malaria cases and deaths this year, “said Mangwiro.
“Covid-19 has similar initial symptoms to malaria, including fever, headache, generalized body pain and weakness,” he said.
Kunashe Mberi, director of the National Malaria Control Program in Zimbabwe, said the World Health Organization (WHO) had made numerous recommendations to fight the disease.
“We spray people’s homes and provide mosquito nets. Every sleeping place must have a mosquito net. We have sprayed and we are still spraying, but sometimes we meet resistance as people make different excuses for not spraying their homes, but we don’t encourage that, ”Mberi said.
He said most local malaria cases and deaths have been reported in Manicaland, followed by Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East.
“We are ready for the rainy season as we have placed medication in clinics and hospitals and people are advised to seek free treatment if they suspect they have malaria.
“We want to talk to people and campaign all year round, but we have financial challenges and the ministry is dependent on donors so we can’t run all of the programs we might have planned,” said Mberi