Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe (UMP) District Medical Officer Dr Pikirai Mazanhi has called on the government and other stakeholders to intensify Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) to effectively address the malaria pandemic that reoccurs in the district every year.
UMP, located in the Mashonaland East province, is a malaria-infested region and this has seen the district record high mortality rate as a result of Malaria.
However, over the years, Indoor Residual Spraying has proved to be the most effective vector control intervention that suits the regions and has been working well.
Dr Mazanhi said malaria is a major problem in UMP with almost the entire population at risk.
“Transmission is seasonal and occurs primarily between November and April, correlating closely with rainfall,” said Dr Mazanhi.
After his reviews and findings, Dr Mazanhi said the district has roughly two malaria zones that are a low burden and high burden.
“It’s one district with two different needs. Allocating the little resources that are there according to needs, would greatly improve effectiveness,” Dr Mazanhi.
“IRS though a very effective vector control measure is failing to have the desired impact in the high burden zone due to the high nomadic tendencies of the populations along the river catchment areas as these people will not be in the sprayed homes but instead are camped in the rivers panning for gold,” added Mazanhi.
In 2016 malaria caused 216 million clinical episodes in Zimbabwe while an estimated 445 000 people died of malaria.
In a research carried by Dr Mazanhi, it was evident that most of the outbreaks were recorded between week 8 and week 13 and around week 30, the trend over the years.
The research was done in areas identified in Pfungwe specifically along the Mazowe and Nyadire rivers catchment areas.
Nomadic populations engage in a number of activities after hours that include market gardening and gold panning, thus having families of different age groups moving together ibcreasing bite efficiencies.
“These same populations are now crossing over Mazowe river into Mupfurudzi game park and operate at night in those game parks to keep away from the game rangers and therefore increase bite frequencies,” said Dr Mazanhi.
“Due to the high temperatures even at night, some opt to sleep outside, hence cooler temperatures, increase exposure to mosquito bites,” added Dr Mazanhi.
Tall grass usually reserved for cattle feeding and stagnant water bodies which become a life line for many families for domestic use at the peak of the dry spell, are good breeding areas of mosquitoes.
Since the mid-1980s, these gains were being gradually eroded with malarial epidemics becoming frequent and more severe.
The recent trend in the reduction of the impact of IRS has been attributed to a number of factors including environmental, biological, financial and social constraints.
However, its track record in southern Africa and in many other areas of the world is outstanding and should certainly be considered when planning extended vector control activities in such areas.