MUTARE– At least 98 people have died from malaria in the eastern region, although officials says the disease burden is subsidizing due to the onset of the winter period.
Acting Provincial Medical Director, Dr Munyaradzi Mukuzunga told a media briefing organized by the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum that while the province has the largest share of national cases, the trend of infection is now going down.
Dr Mukuzunga said as of week 22 at least 123 522 cases had been recorded, with Chipinge and Makoni districts leading in terms of malaria cases, while Chipinge has also recorded a decline from the previous years.
He said 2020 statistics show an upsurge, in all district expect Chipinge, mainly because of the low uptake of Indoor Residual Spraying exercise, as communities did not want the new chemicals that had been adopted for use.
Dr Mukuzunga said this change of insecticide was routine, to stop the anopheles, malaria causing mosquitos, from developing resistance to a chemical.
“We monitor malaria cases on a weekly basis and as of week 22 we had a total of 123 522 cases and 98 deaths.
“In terms of the trend we look at thresholds of how many facilities are down (admitted malaria patients), so around two weeks ago we were hovering above 70 and that has now dropped down to 51 facilities..
“We are attributing this to resistance of Indoor Residual Spraying, the uptake of the program has been very low. We have changed the insecticide that we use, which is done in order for us to prevent the development of resistance from developing.
“From 2014 in Mutasa, Nyanga, Mutare and Chimanimani we were spraying organophosphates, so after four years it was time for us to change to another type of chemical, which is not a new phenomenon.
“In terms of our National Insecticide Resistance Plan we rotate, so in accordance Mutare, Mutasa Nyanga and Chimanimani were roped onto organo-chlorine which is basically DDT, people resisted thinking that it doesn’t work,” said Dr Mukuzunga.
“In Chipinge district we have recorded a significant decline from a district that used to have over 35% of all the provincial cases, it’s now down to about 22% as a result of the use of organo-chlorine (DDT).”
Ministry of Health and Child Care in an update of malaria cases, says the decline trend is traceable across the country with results from week 24 showing that a total of 179 000 people had been infected by malaria and 131 people had died.
“In general, we are seeing the weekly cases and deaths start to drop as we go into winter. This decline can be attributed in a large part to the following response activities implemented in the outbreak affected areas.
“Ministry of Health is currently engaged in active testing and treatment of cases by village health workers, mass net distribution in six districts of Mat South & Mat North, targeted spraying of affected wards in Mutoko, Mutasa & Chiredzi districts,” read part of the update.