Big drive to eliminate malaria
WINDHOEK – It is expected Namibia will eliminate malaria in six years’ time, the Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi said during a World Health Day commemoration event in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday.
The day was observed under the theme ‘Preventing vector-borne diseases’, which highlights the continuous threat of such diseases. Similarly, the minister said at an event on Sunday in Windhoek before his departure that Namibia is progressing from malaria control to the malaria pre-elimination stage. “And this progress is happening quicker than anticipated,” said Kamwi. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over one billion people are infected and more than one million die from vector-borne diseases. Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans.
At the event which also marked the founding of WHO Kamwi said the burden of vector-borne diseases is highest in Africa. “Malaria continues to cause morbidity and mortality exacting huge tolls on economic development across Africa,” said Kamwi. He highlighted the challenges of ‘neglected’ vector-borne diseases such as yellow fever, which is still very much prevalent. “Dengue outbreaks have been reported in all [health] regions of [the WHO] with suspected endemicity in over 30 countries and all four dengue viruses in circulation,” added Kamwi. However, according to him Namibia has made great progress in the control of vector-borne diseases, particularly malaria. He highlighted the progress in the persistent and continued use of indoor residual spraying as the mainstay of vector control, which is supplemented by the deployment of long lasting insecticide nets in Namibia. “These two powerful tools are driving us towards elimination and it will help us to eventually eradicate the disease,” a proud Kamwi said.
In addition, he highlighted that government through the Ministry of Health and Social Services has invested in the careful and gradual introduction of larviciding (destruction of mosquito larvae) in some of the former high malaria urban and peri-urban areas that border Angola. “We are committed to continual monitoring of the impact of our approaches,” he said. Despite the progress made with malaria, Kamwi was quick to admit that a number of challenges continue to persist. “While our current vector control tools are still effective, Namibia like other countries faces two potential threats – insecticide resistance and increased adaptation of vector behaviour to avoid treated nets and walls,” said Kamwi.
By Staff Reporter