Malaria remains a threat to developing nations

Malaria infected mosquito

Rainy season is not always the favourite season for people living in malaria prevalent countries particularly in the Southern Africa Development Community region were the spread of the disease intensifies during the months of September through to April; in contrast winter season turns out to be the favourable season hence the spread of malaria is very low, but the low risk does not mean people cannot get infected. People can get infected all year round.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The disease is so fatal to the extent that 219 million cases of illness and 660 000 deaths caused by it are reported annually and 90 percent plus of these cases are in Africa, where it kills almost half a million children under the age of 5 each year in Africa. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) a child dies every minute from malaria.

This year, 2015 on World Malaria Day the World Health Organisation is calling for high-level commitment to the vision of a world free of malaria. The theme, set by the Roll Back Partnership for 2013 - 2015 is invests in the future: Defeat malaria. This reflects the ambitious goals and targets set out in a draft post-2015 strategy to be presented to the World Health Assembly in May. The new strategy aim to reduce malaria cases and deaths by 90% by 2030 from current levels.

The World Malaria Day theme provides a platform for countries to highlight their progress that has been made in prevention and control of malaria, and to commit to continue investing in actions to eradicate this fatal disease. And to encourage cross boarders collaboration between countries, hence malaria free country today might be a malaria epidemic country tomorrow since mosquitoes do not need passport to cross boarders

During the World Malaria Day which will be held on the 25 April 2015 different stakeholders, international organisations, and group will be participating in actions to eradicate the disease. According to (WHO) a lot has been achieved, but still hundreds of thousands of people continue dying due to poor cure. The standards of health facilities/ care in malaria endemic countries are not yet good enough to accommodate malaria infected people.

Despite the progress that has been made in eliminating malaria continentally SADC region remains vulnerable to malaria as 63 percent of people in the region are living in areas that are affected by malaria, and at risk of getting infected. Out of 660 000 deaths reported annually 200 000 of death cases are reported from SADC, this implies that malaria remains the major contributor to morbidity and mortality across the region. The SADC region is facing a huge burden compared to other regions as most of the countries in SADC are referred to as low-income countries and there is no enough national budget to erect health facilities.

Most SADC member states/countries are poverty stricken and most people in those countries cannot even afford to feed themselves, paying preventions and medical when malaria attacks is very difficult for them to protect themselves.

The SADC ministers of health at the SADC Minister of Health meeting held in January at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe noted that there is a significant progress in eradicating the trio diseases namely HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria in the region, but there is a lot that need to be done especially in investing in health facilities/care. Also encouraged collaboration between member states in fighting this deadly diseases faced by the region.       

Malaria is one the most severe diseases world-wide and kills millions of pregnant women and children under the age of 5 years, compared to other diseases malaria can be defeated and prevented. A battle against malaria can only be won if the communities are mobilised through health education to; recognise sign and symptoms of malaria; provide more home based treatment; seek treatment when they become ill; and use personal protective measure.

To achieve target goal which is to eradicate malaria by 90% in 2030, it is important to promote health communication through use of ICT in health communication such as print and electronic media which influences behaviour change.

By Mehlolo Maphanga