SA recommits to zero malaria by 2018

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Pretoria – The Department of Health says it plans to eliminate malaria by achieving zero cases of locally transmitted malaria by 2018.

On 25 April 2016, people across the globe will take part in a wide range of activities to mark World Malaria Day. The day is being commemorated to highlight successes for controlling malaria and the plight of the disease around the world.

The 2016 World Malaria Day will be held under the theme “End Malaria for Good.”

The department said it will use World Malaria Day to raise awareness on malaria prevention and to focus on the achievements, progress and challenges in the fight against malaria.

“The Department of Health has been very successful in reducing the malaria incidents in South Africa and has met the malaria targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“South Africa has reversed the malaria incidents by 82% of the levels in the year 2000. In this regard, South Africa was presented with the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) award for achieving the malaria goal of the MDGs at the ALMA meeting for Heads of State and Government of the African Union in January 2016,” the department said.

According to World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Malaria Report 2015, there has been a major decline in global malaria cases and deaths since the year 2000, where mortality decreased by 60% with 62 million lives saved.

Moreover, 57 Countries reduced malaria cases by at least 75%, between the year 2000 and 2015. Progress was made possible through the massive expansion of effective tools to prevent and treat malaria, such as indoor residual spraying, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, diagnostic testing and anti-malarial medicines.

However, significant challenges remain globally with about 3.2 billion people at risk of malaria.

“In 2015, there were an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Millions of people are still not accessing the services they need to prevent and treat malaria,” the report noted.

Malaria in South Africa is seasonal (transmission occurring between September and May) and occurs in certain geographical areas of Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

WHO’s Global Malaria Programme calls upon endemic countries, donors, organizations and communities to work together to eliminate and eradicate malaria, a disease that is preventable, treatable and curable.

“With commitment, dedication and support of all governments and partners, the vision for malaria elimination and eradication is possible,” said WHO. 

Everyone is at risk of contracting malaria in endemic areas, but there are some higher risk groups including, children under five years of age, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, travellers from non-endemic areas and immigrant workers.

Symptoms of malaria vary from flu-like symptoms such as severe headaches, fever, joint pains, shivering episodes, nausea and vomiting.

More serious symptoms include severe breathing difficulties, low blood sugar, severe anaemia, weakness of the body, convulsions, respiratory distress, jaundice, renal failure, repeated vomiting, shock, hypoglycaemia, black urine, abnormal bleeding and even a coma. -