Plans underway to eliminate Malaria in 6 endemic districts

Health Minister Dr Alfred Madigele has urged Batswana to make proper use of available malaria interventions to reduce the rate of infections and death by Malaria. Addressing the nation on radio during the World Malaria Day themed; ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’ Dr Madigele said malaria was still a disease of significant public health importance in Botswana, with high morbidity and infection rates, and that although deaths, due to the disease have reduced considerably, there was still a long way to go. The theme, he said seeks to empower individuals across the world to make a personal commitment to saving million more lives, and help communities and economies to thrive by ending malaria. “This global movement seeks to re-energise the fight to eliminate the disease, which still threatens half of the global population and kills one child every two minutes”. The African region is the worst hit by the killer disease in the world. In the World Malaria Report 2018, WHO estimates that we still have more than 4.4 million cases in the region and sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 93% (404,550) of the global malaria deaths. Botswana has made incredible progress towards malaria elimination in the last decade, but Dr Madigele said sustaining gains will take extra effort until the job is finished and malaria has been eliminated. “We have managed to reduce the incidence of malaria from 28.7/1000 population in 2001 to 0.24/1000 population by 2018. While efforts are on course to conduct active and passive case detection, notify, investigate, list and map all cases and deaths, resource limitation becomes a big challenge in the area of malaria surveillance and rapid response to contain secondary cases and outbreaks. Nevertheless, we have also managed to introduce modern technology for rapid notification of cases and mapping of malaria transmission areas,” he shared. He indicated that available interventions had proven to work and urged the public to support the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP)’s strategies of using the Long-Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLINs), Indoor Residual Spraying, and Intermittent Preventive Treatment of pregnant women (IPTp) to prevent being infected. Others, he said, include vector control intervention designed to destroy the mosquito larvae conducted in three districts of Tutume, Bobirwa and Boteti. The country has also introduced a radical anti-malaria therapy for effective treatment of malaria. To address the challenge of low community response, participation, ownership and ultimately low uptake of malaria elimination interventions, Dr Madigele said the NMEP with the support from the Global Fund adopted the Communities Acting Together to Eliminate Malaria (CATTEM) in 2018. “This is an approach that seeks to involve community leadership and other community structures to drive malaria elimination in their communities; resonating well with this year’s theme that drives for personalisation of malaria elimination by all,” he said. The approach is being implemented in the 6 endemic Districts with plans to expand to the whole country.