Sunday, October 17, 2021

Malaria deaths increased by 224% in Botswana

The percentage figure in the headline might have the effect of startling one but the raw figures are much lower.

With precise regard to Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, the World Malaria Report 2015 says that the four countries achieved a decrease of more than 50 percent in malaria admission rates between 2000 and 2014. “Reported malaria mortality rates also fell by more than 75 percent in these countries. However, the number of reported cases in the four countries more than doubled between 2012 and 2014; between 2013 and 2014 alone, cases increased from 14 142 to 29 234 (52 percent), with increases of 224 percent in Botswana and 200 percent in Namibia,” the report says. In the case of Botswana, three cases were reported in 2012, seven in 2013 and 22 in 2014. Basically, the 224 percent increase relates to cases rising from seven to 22. Compared to most African countries, Botswana has performed impressively in its fight against malaria because with virtually no financial assistance from international donors, it has been able to contain the spread of the disease. Between 2012 and 2014, Botswana spent US$6 million to fight malaria, getting only $250 000 in contributions from unnamed sources.

International funding for malaria typically comes from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, President’s Malaria Initiative from the United States government, World Bank and the United Kingdom. Alongside, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, Botswana set a goal to eliminate malaria by 2015. However, as the report indicates, such goal was frustrated as three of these countries reported increases in the number of confirmed malaria cases in 2014 compared to the number in 2013: Botswana from 456 to 1346, Namibia from 4911 to 15 914 and South Africa from 8645 to 11 705. The five countries in the subregion, together with Angola, Mozambique and Zambia, are signatories to the Elimination 8 regional initiative. Launched in March 2009, this initiative includes the goal of malaria elimination from four countries ÔÇô Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland ÔÇô by 2020, and elimination from the region by 2030. Despite relatively low numbers of confirmed malaria cases in 2014, unconfirmed cases comprised 10 percent of total recorded cases in Botswana, 2 percent in South Africa and 5 percent in Swaziland. WHO says that diagnostic testing needs further strengthening. Southern African Development Community countries with low transmission are Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. In 2014, the proportion of the high-risk population estimated to have access to insect-treated mosquito nets (ITN) in their household exceeded 50 percent in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Indoor residual spraying (IRS) was also used extensively in Botswana (100 percent) and Zimbabwe (79 percent). WHO says that this indicates that ITNs and IRS were deployed together in most of the at-risk population in these two countries. “Only IRS was used in South Africa (100 percent). South Africa and Zimbabwe delivered sufficient anti-malarial medicines to treat more than 80 percent of malaria cases attending public health facilities Botswana and Namibia did not report on anti-malarial treatments delivered,” the UN body says.

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