The Deputy Director-Public Health, in the Ministry of Health, Setshwano Mokgweetsinyana, has urged Shorobe residents to effectively use mosquito nets issued to them for the intended purpose of eradicating malaria and to desist from using them for fishing as has been the case over the past years.
It has been observed that some people in Shorobe, where rivers are always flooding thereby making them vulnerable to malaria infections and other water borne diseases, have continuously abused the nets and used them for commercial purposes instead. Open net markets have been opened at Sehitwa Village, for example, which is home to the renowned Lake Ngami where illegal fishermen from neighbouring countries have also illegally turned the place into a tent city as they stay there and sell fish.
Mokgweetsinyana sounded this warning as he received over of 1,200 long-lasting and insecticide treated mosquito nets donated by the Rotary Club of Gaborone (RCG) at Shorobe Village, just 40 kilometers outside of Maun over the weekend.
The nets are to be distributed among communities in Shorobe, Mababe, Sankuyo and Khwai villages, all of which stretch within the pristine Okavango delta.
Mokgweetsinyana said it has also been apparent that students now use the nets for their school agriculture projects, which he said might discourage sponsors from continuing to assist.
Mokgweetsinyana said at the handing over that in 2010, the government took a deliberate step to move towards malaria elimination, where the realization was that government’s efforts could not succeed without the involvement of partners and other stakeholders. As a result, he said they had been engaging various partners, such as advocacy campaigns and malaria partnership meetings, so as to share plans as well as identify gaps that require extra resource mobilization.
“This year we adopted an additional vector control strategy intended to destroy the mosquito larvae, and considerations are underway to further introduce radical treatment to totally eliminate malaria parasites in the human host,” said Mokgweetsinyana. “The ministry has, therefore, instituted a mid-term review of the implementation of the malaria strategic plan 2010-2015 so as to provide an update on the progress achieved in its implementation in relation to the set targets. I must, however, admit that even though there are challenges here and there, our country has made incredible progress in the last decade, but sustaining gains will take extra effort until the job is done soon as malaria elimination is realized.”
Meanwhile the president of the RCG, Barry Evans, said the contribution of their club to communities in Botswana has been immense as it has supported in many ways a number of charitable organizations in Botswana.
He cited the refurbishment of Mochudi’s Deborah Retief Memorial Hospital, Mochudi Resource Centre for the Blind, the building of Kamogelo Day Care Centre in Mogoditshane, Stepping Stones in Mochudi and Bana ba Keletso Orphans Day Care Centre in Mogoditshane as some of the major projects undertaken by the club.
He said, personally, he is appalled by the destruction that malaria brings as people continue to lose lives almost daily, adding that they hope, through their partnership with the Ministry of Health, their contribution might, in a way, change lives for the better.
For his part, the head of the Ngamiland District Health Team, Dr Christopher Chembe, said there has been a gradual decline in malaria cases, most of which transpire during the rainy season, from May to December.
He said the most vulnerable groups are people aged 65 and above, children, and pregnant women, even though their recent investigations conducted in Khwai have revealed that despite the nets being issued from time to time, people still do not put them up as they still remain in wraps.
“We have had very low levels in the previous year with only 15 cases reported. However, the numbers increased this year as we have to date recorded about 68 cases, which is a concern to all of us, as we are at a very high risk of getting severe malaria,” said Chembe. “We want to follow patterns of reporting every case of this disease and inform headquarters, and I believe, this way, we will be able to track every case. Community mobilization is also crucial as we want to engage them to help break new transmissions.”