HEALTH minister Kalumbi Shangula said Namibia has experienced an increase in malaria cases since the malaria season started in December.
At a press conference on malaria amid Covid-19 yesterday, the minister said the worst affected regions are Kavango East and West, Zambezi and Ohangwena.
“These regions are experiencing a significant increase in the number of malaria cases compared to 2018,” he said.
The minister said as a result of Covid-19, the management of malaria now requires more commodities.
He said the ministry now needs more diagnostic kits and more medication because of an increase in fever due to malaria and other infections, including Covid-19.
“Malaria shares some symptoms with Covid-19, namely, fever, headache, body aches and weakness. Malaria can co-exist with many other infections. Consequently, confirming malaria infections with a diagnostic test does not rule out the possibility of Covid-19.
“Similarly, testing positive for Covid-19 does not mean the individual does not also have a malaria infection,” Shangula said.
Shangula told The Namibian in May that malaria cases jumped from 2 405 in 2019 to 10 921 since January 2020 to date.
In 2018 the malaria cases stood at 26 050.
Last week he said the ministry faces challenges of dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak while tackling existing health problems, such as hepatitis E and malaria.
Shangula said in 2019 there was a severe drought in Namibia and hence fewer cases of malaria. He added that in 2020 Namibia received good rains and hence the increase in the cases.
As of May, malaria cases were more in Kavango East and West at 5 658; Zambezi at 2 351; and Ohangwena at 2 022.
“Covid-19 is dominating public discourse, however, it should be remembered that the other diseases are still with us. They also receive due attention,” the minister said.
According to Shangula yesterday, the World Health Organisation cautioned countries to intensify efforts to address malaria within the Covid-19 context. Yesterday Namibia received 10 000 units artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) costing N$150 694.35 from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Elimination 8 (E8) secretariat to fight malaria.
The E8 is comprised of Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
SADC E8 ambassador Richard Kamwi said during the first quarter of 2020, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique Zambia and Zimbabwe reported sharp increases in malaria, exceeding figures of the same quarter in 2019.
“Although not very well resourced, the SADC-Malaria Elimination 8 secretariat decided to share the little it has, and procured an emergency supply of 10 000 units of artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) which is the first line treatment against malaria,” he said.
Kamwi added that many factors contributed to the spikes in malaria cases; including a conducive environment for vector breeding; inadequate indoor residual spraying coverage; possible resistance to chemicals and changes in vector behaviour.