Malaria control interventions pay off

TANZANIA has recorded a decline in confirmed Malaria cases by 55 per cent following various interventions adopted   by the government to eradicate the deadly disease in the country.

The measures taken included Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), the use of insecticide and treated mosquito nets and raising the disease awareness to the public.

Other initiatives include the use of Community Health Workers (CHWs) and ensure expectant mothers are protected by providing them with treated mosquito nets.

The National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) Acting Manager, Dr Abdallah Lusasi revealed that in Dar es Salaam yesterday ahead of the World Malaria Day which is marked on every April 25.

This year’s day is marked under the theme “Time to Deliver Zero Malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement”.

He said Malaria confirmed cases declined from 7.7 million in 2015 to 3.5 million in 2022 while Malaria incidence per 1000 population reduced by almost 64 per cent from 162 in 2015 to 58 in 2022.

According to him, hospital admissions due to Malaria decreased by 66 per cent from 529,146 cases in 2015 to 178,549 in 2022, indicating a decrease of severe cases while the number of Malaria deaths in health facilities has declined by 76 per cent from 6,311 in 2015 to 1,502 in 2022.

Dr Lusasi said statistics showed that from 2018 to 2022 Malaria prevalence in Kigoma Region continued to drop from 33.1 per cent to less than 12.5 per cent due to the implementation of the Indoor Residual Spray carried out by the government.

Dr Lusasi said though the prevalence is decreasing daily there are some regions whose cases are increasing and others are decreasing.

He said five regions with the highest prevalence rate include Tabora (23.4 per cent),   followed by Mtwara( 20 per cent),  Kagera (18 per cent),  Shinyanga (16 per cent)and Mara (15 per cent). The lowest prevalence regions are Manyara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dodoma, Songwe, Mwanza and Dar es Salaam.

He said although transmission varies significantly among and within regions the 94 per cent of entire population of Tanzania is considered at risk for malaria.

He said the population living in hypo endemic areas increased from less than 40 per cent to 65 per cent, while those living in areas with less than 5 per cent increased from 30 per cent to 52 per cent and the population living in areas increased from 4

to 41 per cent.

Dr Lusasi said rural area prevalence is high at 10.7 per cent while urban area prevalence is 0.7 per cent.

He further said that   the current Malaria strategy aims at reducing average prevalence from 7.5 per cent (2017) to less than 3.5 per cent in 2025 and eliminate the disease by 2030 through phased approach.

Dr Lusasi emphasised on the need to sustain measures and that all people have a key role to play in ensuring that the target is met as planned.

He said the government will also continue to provide treated mosquito nets, education and monitor prevalence at homes as efforts towards eradicating the disease.

He said they started a campaign to provide medication for preventing malaria infection in schools, malaria testing in households that are far away by using community members who will be given education and tools.

“We use CHWs to appoint people in communities that are far from health services by training them, providing them with tools such as medicine, tests  kits,  transport and allowances so that they can help test the communities in the villages,” said Dr Lusasi.

He said that for the regions where the prevalence has decreased they follow up by monitoring the patients who arrive at the hospital before going home to test other members so that they can identify those who are infected and provide them with treatment.

“We started in the Manyara Region to make a follow up. When a patient comes, if it is a father, we go to test the mother and children, if it is a child, we go for the father, mother and other members in the family,” said Dr Lusasi.

He advised the citizens to go to the hospital within 24 hours after the symptoms and ensure proper use of treated nets.

The Dar es Salaam Regional Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rashid Mfaume called on Tanzanians to go to health centres when they get symptoms of Malaria so that they can be provided with appropriate treatment.

He said that not every symptom is related to Malaria, asking Tanzanians to stop using medicine without doctors’ prescription.

NMCP revised the National Diagnostic and Treatment guidelines to include injectable artesunate for the treatment of severe malaria.

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