Mpumalanga records 39% reduction in malaria cases

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

By Dale Hes

Mbombela - The number of reported malaria cases has gone down by 39% in Mpumalanga in the past year.

According to the provincial Health and Social Development Department spokesperson, Ronnie Masilela, local cases of malaria decreased from 452 during the 2011/12 financial year, to 274 by the end of June 2013.

“The Mpumalanga malaria elimination programme changed from controlling malaria in the province to the elimination phase in early 2012. Larval control, malaria awareness campaigns and training of healthcare officials has resulted in reduced transmission in the province,” said Masilela on Wednesday.

He said that the improvement was proof that public healthcare services were leading the way when it comes to fighting the disease.

He said the introduction of IV Artesunate, a highly effective malaria drug treatment, at six public hospitals in the Ehlanzeni district has also contributed to the decline.

“Public healthcare is now the main driver of malaria prevention and treatment programmes,” Masilela said.

Just over R7 million was allocated for the programme in the 2012/13 financial year. R4 million was reportedly used for insecticides, while the remaining funds were spent on the running costs of 36 government vehicles used to roll out medicines and awareness campaigns.

Jasson Urbach, director of non-profit health advocacy group Africa Fighting Malaria, said that South Africa had top quality malaria control programmes in the three malaria provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Kwazulu-Natal.

“We are pioneers in the usage of malaria drugs such as IV Artesunate, which we were using even before the World Health Organisation (WHO) introduced them.

"We have never had to rely on donor funding and are completely self-sufficient when it comes to malaria control programmes such as those in Mpumalanga... Our scientists and doctors in this field are also world class,” Urbach explained.

Approximately 10% (4.9 million people) of South Africa’s population resides in malaria risk areas.

WHO estimates that up to 500 million cases of malaria occur annually around the world. The disease kills at least one million people each year and has become the leading killer of children under the age of five in Africa.

Economists have estimated that malaria costs endemic countries 1.3% of GDP annually in lost productivity, translating to a yearly loss of $12 billion for the entire African continent. –

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