The Honorable Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa officially opened the Annual National Malaria Conference at Cutty Sark Hotel. In his opening remarks Dr Parirenyatwa said, while Zimbabwe had scored high in malaria prevention, cross border collaboration between Zimbabwe and its neighboring countries is key to the country’s efforts to increase malaria elimination and to consolidate current achievements.
Indications were that Zimbabwe had made tremendous strides in its quest to eliminate malaria, one of which is the surpassing of the Millennium Development Goal Number 6 set target on elimination of the epidemic. Zimbabwe achieved a 79 percent rate in the reduction of malaria incidence against a set target of 75 percent.
The Honorable Minister said collaboration with neighboring countries with which Zimbabwe shares high malaria burden borderlines is key to elimination of the disease. He called for an indaba of the E-8 countries (elimination Eight), a grouping of Southern African states committed to fighting malaria, in order to come up with a position on cross border collaboration.
He added that “the country continues to play an active role in the region and is working closely with the E8 to increase access to health services in areas along the borders and to strengthen cross border collaboration as most of our high burden malaria districts share borders with Mozambique and Zambia.”
Dr. Joseph Mberikunashe the National Malaria Programme Director who was also at the conference gave a summary of achievements since last conference which included completion of the 2015 IRS campaign with 96% population protected,development of the updated Malaria Risk Map, developed the Insecticide Resistance Management Plan/ Guidelinesand Filled up vacant posts-E8 Focal Person, Finance Assistant, Assistant Vector Control Officer, Entomologist (seconded by Abt Assoc.)
This year’s Conference was running on the theme “evidence based programming and community engagement- key to malaria elimination.” Stakeholders in the health sector combating malaria convened at the conference to deliberate on progress made so far and to discuss new trends in malaria interventions.
“The theme calls for us to strengthen the collection and utilization of accurate malaria surveillance data for evidence based programming and it also recognizes that we can only realize our target of eliminating malaria in Zimbabwe by 2025 through engaging the community,” Dr Parirenyatwa said.
The main objectives of the conference were to review progress, achievements and challenges towards national targets based on the Strategic Plan,address key malaria strategic issues and identify opportunities for improvement, take stock of resources, partnership support and learn from innovative ideas including technological advancements, identify ways to improve effectiveness and quality of program implementation and to come up with a schedule of remaining activities for implementation in Q4 2016.
The conference which started on Monday the 17th October and ended on Friday the 21st of October 2016 attracted delegates from all the eight provinces, Ministry of Health partners which included WHO,UNDP, PLAN, ZAPIM, PSI,UMC, CHAI, USAID and US PMI as well as government arms such as the ZDF, ZRP and ZNA.
Speaking at conference the Deputy Mayor of Kariba Municipality, Mr Fedison Aaron said; “Kariba Municipality is providing comprehensive service delivery in general and health services in particular despite the several challenges precipitated by the current economic conditions. The town has two clinics and both centers are all equipped to combat Malaria.”
He went further to highlight the efforts being done by the local authority where it has also assisted the Community Based Organisation (CBOs) who weekly clean up the wards and has ensured that all illegal dumping of waste becomes a thing of past in the town as to get rid of the parasites which cause malaria.
Dr Mberikunashe highlighted the on-going and upcoming malaria interventions which included Indoor Residual Spraying October to December, Malaria Indicator Survey Data Analysis and Report writing, Nov 2016, Malaria Impact Assessment 2003-15, November 2016, development of the National Malaria Strategic Plan 2016-2020, Nov-1st week of December 2016, net Durability study-ZAPIM ,SADC Malaria Day Commemoration- November 2016, E8 Cross-border collaboration..
However the Honourable Minster highlighted that despite all these achievements and partner support, there still remains a funding gap and the Ministry is doing all it can to raise more resources for the programme and to lobby treasury to increase allocation.
Presenting at the conference Mr Japer Pasipamire from WHO gave a global picture of Malaria noting that an estimated 3.3 billion people (about half of the world population) lived in areas where malaria is a health risk for the population. In 2015 Malaria caused some 214 million cases with 438,000 deaths, 90% of the deaths occurred in the WHO African region and concentrated in 15 countries and 78% of deaths recorded of children under five.
“To address remaining and emerging challenges, WHO with member states developed aGlobal Technical Strategy (GTS) for malaria 2016–2030” Mr Pasipamire said.
Dr Shiva who also attended the conference and is one of the old members the Malaria Program since 1992 said in his presentation “the primary objective in elimination of the active malaria foci is to interrupt local malaria transmission of malaria P. Falciparum parasites by Anophelene Mosquito's from one infected person (index case) to other persons (secondary cases) in the same household or other households in neighbouring households and villages”
The conference ended with a cleanup campaign which saw participants joining hands with the community to keep Kariba Clean. The Minister commended the cleanup campaign and said it was very important as this will also reinforce the behaviour of keeping the environment clean which reduces mosquito breeding places.“The clean-up campaign will also give us a chance to interact with communities and stakeholders that are affected with malaria in one way or the other,” said the Minister.