Ministry prepares for malaria season

25 September 2019 | Health

With good rainfall expected in the coming rainy season, the chances of a malaria outbreak in northern Namibia are also high.

This is according to health minister Kalumbi Shangula, who launched the annual mosquito control campaign in the Kavango East Region this month.

Namibia is among the countries where the World Health Organisation's indoor residual spraying (IRS) programme, which can reduce malaria transmission, is implemented.

The programme involves the application of a residual insecticide to internal walls and ceilings of houses to kill mosquitoes.

“This month I visited the malaria spray team in Kavango East. I was impressed by their dedication and commitment to their work. The northern regions are prone to malaria outbreaks,” Shangula said.

“I call on the communities to open the doors of their houses and allow our spray teams to do their work.'

Shangula said the spraying is done to save people's lives. He therefore called on residents to cooperate with the spraying teams.

In May this year, the health ministry announced a reduction in cases of malaria reported during the last rainy season.

This reduction was attributed to the success of last year's IRS programme as well as the lack of rain this year.

By September last year there had been 24 000 recorded cases with 32 deaths.

The water-rich Kavango East and Kavango West regions are the most affected by malaria.

For example, in April 2017, the two Kavango regions reported 4 617 cases - four times more than the second highest number of 1 184 in the Ohangwena Region.

Since 2016, the government has been using an insecticide called K-Othrine, which is a cost-effective alternative to DDT and remains active for six months after spraying. DDT's soil half-life is between two and 15 years.

However, there have been problems with the use of government-issued mosquito nets being used as fishing nets.

In April 2017, Malaria Elimination 8 (E8) ambassador Dr Richard Kamwi told Namibian Sun that even if the health ministry distributed mosquito nets to every Namibian, the country and E8 would not succeed in containing malaria by 2020 unless they were used for protection against mosquitoes.