At least, 42 people have died due to malaria and 2,821 confirmed cases recorded in Harare since the beginning of 2017, Spiked can reveal.
City of Harare, Director of Health Services, Dr Prosper Chonzi confirmed that the city this year recorded a sharp increase in both malaria cases and deaths due to seasonal variations in weather.
In an interview, Dr Chonzi told this reporter that most cases were coming from Caledonia Farm, a new residential area; housing tens of thousands of poverty stricken families located about 20km east of Harare.
It costs $5 for an adult consultation fee and $3 for children above five years at any Harare clinics, an amount too high for many Zimbabwean families to seek health services.
“Most of the malaria cases we are witnessing are imported from Mashonaland East Privince where malaria is still prevalent.
“We inherited Caledonia Farm from Mash East Province and this is another reason why we are recording more cases and deaths in our system.
We also witnessed more rains last rain season which increased the population of mosquitoes leading to more chances of getting malaria,”
said Dr Chonzi.
The city health director could not give statistics of both malaria cases and deaths off-head.
However, according to the Ministry of Health and Child Care -weekly disease surveillance report for week 1-41 of 2017 in our hands, cumulatively, Harare has recorded a total of 2, 821 malaria cases and 42 deaths.
In the past couple years the country was faced with droughts which had a positive impact in malaria as less cases and deaths were registered owing to less breeding grounds for mosqitoes.
But the previous rain season saw the country recording normal to above normal rainfall, hence more cases are being recorded this year.
As the country braces for yet another rainy season which the national Meteorological Department predicts would be normal to above normal rainfall – the people should take more preventive measures to guard against mosquitoes breeding and bites.
“The city has a budget of $200 000 for disease preventions and control and we have since started indoor residual spreaying of houses and distribution of treated mosquito nets especially in Caledonia and surrounding areas.
“We are also raising awareness through our community based health promoters (ana mbuya and sekuru hutsanana) to educate our residents not to shun house spraying, utilise mosquito nets and when ever they experience fever, vomiting and pains in their joints to seek treatment early,” said Dr Chonzi adding that:
“Children under the age of five years usually succumb faster and we encourage parents to bring them early for testing and treatment”.
Pregnant women have also been cited as a vulnerable group when it comes to malaria since the symptoms present differently and subtly in them compared to other people.
In a seperate interview, the National Malaria Control Programme – Information, Education and Communications Officer, Fortunate Manjoro said usually the pregnant women would just feel tired and weak and not suspect malaria thereby delay seeking treatment.
“Pregnant women should be more cautious. Malaria symptoms present differently in them as they usually just feel mild dizziness and weakness yet deep down malaria parasites would be multiplying and damaging internal organs and the embryo.
“They should take preventive measures such as using mosquito repellents and visit their nearest clinics early for advice.
“We also have preventive malaria drugs in all clinics across the country of which these drugs are not found in pharmaceuticals,” she said.