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MALARIA CASES INCREASE IN THE NORTHERN REGIONS

By: Hellen Andreas

Malaria cases in the four northern regions have increased over the last year, showing that the disease continues to be a health hazard.

In January 2022, the Ohangwena region recorded a total of 396 cases in comparison to 159 cases which were recorded in January 2021.

According to Ohangwena Health Director John Hango, there is a significant increase in malaria cases this year (2022) compared to last year as the number of cases surpassed the 237 cases threshold. 

“Unfortunately, last year (2021), one death case was recorded in Engela district, and thus far, no death case was recorded in the region,” he said.

Malaria cases are mainly found at villages alongside the border with Angola, whereby Hango said the local cases stand at 58% (230/396) and non-local cases stand at 42% (166/396).

Hango further said there is clear evidence that Malaria transmission is high in the region. Forty-two (42%) is the number of people recorded at our health facilities as Angolan Nationals seeking medical services across Namibia.

Malaria prevalence in the region was stable in 2021 as we have not experienced an outbreak. The Ohangwena region has experienced a notable increase in cases for the first two weeks of January 2022. 

Oshana recorded 38 malaria cases in January 2022, and the number has increased drastically compared to the same period in January 2021. The region recorded seven malaria cases.

Oshana Health Director Johanna Haimene told The Villager that one death was recorded in January.

Oshikoto region recorded 55 malaria cases in January this year, with Omuthiya district recording the most (22), Onandjokwe, 21, and Tsumeb 12. In 2021 the same region recorded 21 in January.

“Activities and efforts to curb malaria in the region are ongoing, including testing feverish patients at the facility and community level. There is also active case detection whereby the teams follow patients who tested positive for malaria and test all family members living in the house with the infected person (patient),” Hango said.

He said they also conducted entomological surveillance, including active Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) of sprayable rooms and were not sprayed during the IRS campaign.

Other activities include larviciding breeding sites with mosquito larva, environmental modification, or good housekeeping, such as advocating burying and emptying unused tins and avoiding long unnecessary vegetation such as grass. 

Health education is ongoing at all levels, and this is conducted by health workers as well as partners.     

The message to the public is that malaria is preventable and curable. Hence, Hango says, it is the responsibility of every Namibian to play their role in eliminating malaria in their geographical area.

Hango urged the community to follow and adhere to the health information given by health care workers at all levels, be it at the village level or radio health talks. 

“The public is reminded and urged that any person with symptoms of malaria should report to the nearest health facility without delay, and this will prevent loss of lives,” he said.

Hango said there is a challenge of patients providing incorrect residential addresses that make it difficult for the teams to visit these places for further investigation. 

“Above all transparency and truthfulness aid toward malaria elimination by providing the correct information as requested by healthcare workers to successfully trace all malaria positive cases and cut the transmission chain of malaria disease,” Hango said.

“It should be noted that malaria kills if not handled correctly or delayed seeking medical attention. It is a known fact that prevention is better than cure, and together we can eliminate malaria.”

Omusati January 2022 recorded 92 malaria cases and two deaths, while in 2021, the region recorded only nine cases with zero deaths.

Julia Heita

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