Malaria outbreak kills 7 in Madagascar
Antananarivo – A particularly severe outbreak of malaria in Madagascar has killed seven people since the beginning of the month and has left 60 others in need of hospitalisation, the country’s health minister said on Thursday.
Madagascar has seen an increase in the number of malaria cases in the first months of 2012 when compared with the previous year, government officials say.
Local doctors say the increase is likely a result of changing climate conditions, which have made the region more hospitable to the insects which carry the disease.
Moreover, the country suffered a coup in 2009 and Madagascar has been in a political stalemate ever since, despite regional efforts to reach an agreement between the military-backed rulers and the old regime now in exile.
The stalemate has caused foreign donors to back away from the country, which is also experiencing an economic decline as a result of the political situation. At the same time, its government is becoming less capable of delivering basic health services.
The outbreak has hit the south of the world’s fourth largest island, located off southern Africa in the Indian Ocean.
Health Minister Johanita Ndahimananjara said there were enough supplies of medicine to care for the ill, but stressed that early detection and treatment were crucial to preventing the disease from causing the patient to die.
Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease that can be fatal, ravages many developing countries.
Aid groups often hand out mosquito nets to help prevent people from getting bitten and contracting the disease. Owing to the poverty in Madagascar, many people depend on the hand-outs as they cannot afford to buy nets on their own.