BLANTYRE: The 2017 Malaria Indicator Survey Report has indicated that the country is making strides in the fight against malaria registering a decline of malaria cases in children as well as an increase in the uptake in the usage of Insecticides-Treated Nets (ITNs)
A press statement issued on Wednesday signed by Secretary for Health and Population, Dan Namarika, the 2017 Malaria Indicator Survey Report which is a measure of the National Malaria Control efforts shows a decline in malaria prevalence among children, which is likely due to improved ownership of and access to mosquito nets and other interventions.
According to the report, 24 percent of children aged 6-59 months tested positive for malaria nationwide, a decline from 33 percent in 20I4. Malaria prevalence varies from as low as 11 percent in the Northern Region to 26 percent in both the Central and Southern regions, said Namarika in the statement.
The survey also indicated that prevention practices of malaria are on the rise as the ownership of ITNs and usage has increased in the last five years, from 55 percent of households in 2012 to 82 percent in 2017.
Nearly two-thirds of Malawian household members have access to an ITN, while 55 percent of the household population slept under an ITN the night before the survey. Use of ITNs has improved since 2012 among high-risk groups – children under 5 and pregnant women aged 15-49.
In 2012, nearly half of children and pregnant women slept under an ITN. In 20I7, 68 percent of children and 63 percent of pregnant women slept under net the night before the survey.
Moreover, coverage of intermittent treatment of malaria in pregnancy has improved in the last five years. After remaining stagnant between 2012 and 2014, pregnant women receiving three or more doses of Fansidar SP has increased three-fold from 13 percent in 2014 to 41 percent in 2017, the statement further says.
However, Namarika said despite the improvements, malaria remains a huge public health concern in Malawi with everyone being at risk of being infected and claiming about 10 lives each day mostly under-five children due to late reporting for treatment.
So, we are further advising the general public to go to the nearest health facility where treatment and other necessary health care services are available as soon as they experience signs that are associated with malaria.
Besides treatment, the general public is also encouraged to use Long Lasting Insecticides Treated Nets and other vector control interventions to prevent them from being bitten by mosquitoes that transmit malaria parasites, cautions Namarika.
Meanwhile, Executive Director for Malawi Health Equity Network (MEHN), George Jobe said it was a positive development that Malawi was making progress in fighting malaria, saying it was commendable for the country since it reflected on the efforts which were bearing fruits.
We need to continue fighting the good fight especially to ensure that usage of mosquito nets increases. There is need to change the mindset of those who abuse mosquito nets by covering their vegetable gardens as well as using them for fishing.
Others have unfounded myths that mosquito nets cause barrenness in men and bring bed bugs in houses. The myths need to be wiped off people’s minds so that we completely get rid of this number one killer disease, Jobe pointed out.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA