The Assistant Minister of Health, Dr Alfred Madigele has expressed concern over the increase in number of imported cases of malaria in the Tutume Sub District. Speaking during the World Malaria Day commemorations which were held in Manxotai village recently, Dr Madigele revealed that the increase is attributed to the fact that there is a high traffic highway that cuts across the district and connecting it to countries that are malaria endemic.
“These countries include countries like Zambia, Angola and Zambia. There is therefore a need to specifically institute measures to address this issue in order to facilitate elimination of malaria in the country,” he said.
He said while Tutume Sub District is making strides in combating malaria, there is a great need to circumvent the rising number of malaria cases from outside the country as this may be viewed in some settings to be adding to the already existing statistics.
On a positive note, the Assistant Minister commended the health private practitioners and public sector in the district for their cordial working relationship. He said a closer look at the district data on malaria shows that quite a number of cases have been reported from private facilities signaling that there is a good working collaboration between the two sectors of health.
“This kind of working relationship is critical in ensuring universal health coverage for the benefit of our communities and in a great measure, contributes to malaria elimination. To date the district has reported 14 malaria cases this year, while this number may look small; the district needs to work harder to achieve zero local transmission rate” said the Assistant Minister.
He said in general, malaria in Botswana remains a great public health concern despite great strides made in reducing its burden from 8 054 reported cases in 2000 to 322 cases during 2015. He said that transmission is still ongoing in six districts being Okavango, Ngami, Chobe, Boteti, Bobirwa and including Tututume Sub District. He however said that their goal of zero local transmission by 2015 as set in the Malaria Strategic Plan 2010 -2015 had to be extended to 2018 as there are still some operational and strategic challenges that still need to be addressed.
“The Malaria Strategic Plan 2014 -2018 was therefore developed to identify the gaps which will subsequently lead to the attainment of malaria elimination,” he said.
Dr Madigele explained that there is a number of interventions in place to combat the malaria scourge. He said the interventions include targeted vector control interventions through the application of indoor residual spraying and mass distribution of long lasting insecticide treated nets. He also said that his ministry has found the urgent need to intensify antimalarial prevention measures, provide quality assured diagnostics testing and effective treatment to reduce the human suffering caused by malaria.
“We have since reviewed the guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of malaria to strengthen malaria diagnosis and provide anti-malarial medicines that will effect radical cure of those found to be having the malaria parasite so as to interrupt transmission from one person to the other. Capacity of Health workers is on-going in various fields to improve on malaria case based surveillance, case management and malaria laboratory Quality Assurance and Quality Assurance systems,” he added.
Dr Madigele said Botswana subscribes to global, regional and sub-regional commitment towards the fight of malaria. He emphasized that the country’s strategic framework is aligned to the SADC Malaria Elimination Framework and together with seven other SADC countries, constitute the Elimination eight Initiative (E8) which is a group of countries earmarked for elimination in 2020.
He further explained that within this group Botswana is one of the four front runners with Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
“The second line countries are those sharing immediate borders with the front runners which are Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The E8 member states are working together to eliminate malaria within their borders. The success of this initiative will contribute significantly to poverty alleviation, as well as social and economic prosperity for Botswana and the greater SADC region,” he said.
The World Malaria Day commemoration was held under the theme “End Malaria for Good”