Namwala celebrates Malaria Day

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—–Southern Province last Friday joined the rest of world in commemorating World Malaria Day which falls on April 25 each year.

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District Commissioner, Gavia Nsanzya, said the Namwala is one of the districts which have been targeted for malaria elimination.

Mr Nsanzya noted that this can only be achieved if all stakeholders, which include traditional leaders, community leaders, non-organisations and all the people at community level support government in the fight against the vice with their respective capacities and abilities.

He pointed out that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that people have access to better health services and that this is an aspect which contributes to social economic development as it reduces the disease burden in Namwala and the country at large.

“My office is alive to the fact that the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, through Namwala district will soon be conducting a mass door-to-door distribution of materials where 68,600 long lasting insecticide treated nets will be given to households,” he said.

He, however, noted that in the past cases have been heard where the nets have been abused and used as fences for chicken rans,  wedding dresses and fishing nets.

The District Commissioner said such abuse of mosquito nets will not be taken kindly by his office and it is high time the people became responsible for their own destiny.

The Theme for this year’s world malaria day was “Invest in the future, defeat malaria’’.

And Provincial Medical Officer, Jelita Chimyonga, said malaria is everyone’s problem and needs strengthened community partnership for progress and impact to be realized.

Dr Chimyonga said it is important to note that reducing the impact of malaria is the key to the achievement of millennium development goals agreed to by every United Nations member state.

“These include not only combating the disease itself , but also goals related to women and children’s rights and health, access to education and reduction of extreme poverty,’’ she said.

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Dr Chimyonga warned that if malaria is not prevented or controlled it poses significant burden on health system and the economy of the nation.

She explained that Sinazongwe, Gwembe and Siavonga are in the moderate to high transmission group followed by Namwala while Kazungula and Livingstone are in the lowest transmission group and have been on record of having zero cases in some quarters in 2011 and 2012.

She observed that although the province has achieved some successes in malaria prevention and control there is need to strengthen cross-border collaboration activities since mosquitoes that spread malaria know no boundaries.

“Malaria elimination can only be realized if we work very closely with neighbouring countries, provinces or districts at all levels , like what we are doing today between Zambia and Zimbabwe,’’ she pointed out.

And Senior Chief Bright Nalubamba observed that it is important for government officers to be interacting with the people instead of remaining in their offices.

The chief said communication is very important in order for the people to understand the message and this can be achieved through one on one interaction.

He thanked World Vision for leading by example in terms of interacting with his people even in remote areas and urged other partners to consider doing the same.

And World Vision representative, Matrida Mukombo, said in the last two years her organisation has distributed 1,283,000 mosquito nets in majority households in the areas of operation.

Ms Mukombo explained that scaling up use of mosquito nets is one of the major priorities of the World Vision malaria control strategy and it is the plan of World Vision to distribute 2,283,000 nets by the end of the 2014 fiscal year.

She added that global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, reducing malaria mortality rates by 42% globally and 49% in Africa.

Ms Mukombo said increased political commitment and expanded funding have helped to reduce malaria incidence by 25% globally and 31% in Africa.

Namwala district was chosen to host the event on behalf of Sothern province which was held at Chitongo Zonal health centre.

The event was characterised by song and dance, poems and plays to educate the masses on malaria.

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