Ngamiland District Health Management Team (DHMT) head Dr Malebogo Pusoentsi says the overgrowth of vegetation in the region has led to the breeding of mosquitos, consequently leading to many cases of malaria and the death of five people. At a press briefing on Sunday, Pusoentsi said Malaria in the whole of the North West is a pending disaster more so that the district has experienced unremitting heavy rains. She said out of the seven malaria deaths recorded nationwide, five of them have been from the Okavango sub district, and that the deceased people reportedly absconded treatment, leading to complicated malaria.
The other main challenge, she said, has been that some areas are hard to reach as they cannot be accessed by road. It is at the same areas also where she said there are lots of permanent water and ever flowing rivers and flood plains.
The team has also had a difficult time carrying out the residual spraying exercise because most people in the district lead a nomadic life and thereby move in between settlements for various reasons, while others completely deny health officials entry into their homes for unknown reasons.
“The other challenge has been that while we try our best to distribute mosquito nets, there are some people who use them for fishing. This to us is quite a drawback, considering the limited number of nets we have. In the Okavango sub district alone we were allocated 44 000 nets while Ngami got 19 000.These are not enough and so we plead with communities to use them for the intended purpose,” she said.
Nevertheless she noted that their wish is for the right manpower to be sent soon and that they are hoping for a positive response. Pusoentsi also cautioned against wearing short sleeve garments. She advised that only long sleeve garments that cover the whole body are needed this time around and that people should use mosquito repellents. And because malaria has almost the same symptoms as flu, she said people should avoid self medicating as they will never be able to distinguish between a mere common cold and malaria. With assistance from representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) she said they have been able to tour the district to assess the situation and done the best studies which needed to be done. As it stands now she said they also have surveillance mechanisms in order and that they will try all their best to contain the outbreak with other of their stakeholders including the district leadership.