Pretoria: South Africa plans to eliminate malaria by achieving an incidence of zero cases of locally transmitted malaria by 2018, says the National Department of Health, ahead of the World Malaria Day.
South Africa will on 25 April 2015 join the global community to observe the World Malaria Day, a day to draw attention for continuous investment and sustained political commitment to prevent and control malaria around the world, especially in sub Saharan Africa.
The department said it will use World Malaria Day to raise awareness on malaria prevention and to focus on the achievements, progress and challenges in the fight against malaria in the country and neighbouring countries.
“World Malaria Day is an opportunity for the Department of Health and other stakeholders engaged in malaria work, to scale up public information and education among government departments and the general public country wide, focusing on prevention and treatment,” the department said in a statement.
The global theme for World Malaria Day this year and the last three years has been “Invest in the future. Defeat malaria”.
According to the World Health Organisation’s 2014 World Malaria report, malaria killed an estimated 528 000 people in sub Saharan Africa in 2013.
The department noted that the country’s Malaria Control Programme has been very successful in reducing the malaria risk in South Africa and has met the Millennium Development Goal objective of reversing malaria incidence by reducing malaria cases by 78% of the malaria levels in 2000.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected anopheles mosquitoes which generally bite at night. Malaria is preventable and curable. Increased malaria prevention and control measures have noticeably reduced the malaria burden in South Africa.
Travellers from non-endemic areas to malaria endemic areas and countries are vulnerable to the disease and need to take preventative measures.
Malaria symptoms appear within 10-15 days after the infective mosquito bite. The symptoms include fever, headache, chills and vomiting. Early malaria diagnosis and treatment reduces disease severity and prevent deaths.
If you suspects that you have malaria, you should immediately consult your health service provider to be tested and treated.
If not treated within 24 hours malaria can progress to severe illness and death. Individuals are advised to take personal protection methods when visiting malaria endemic areas within and outside South Africa.
Vector control is the main method that is used in malaria endemic areas in South Africa to control malaria, through indoor spraying with residual insecticides.
Travellers to malaria endemic areas are advised to take anti malaria medicines.
“Everyone is at risk of contracting malaria in endemic areas, but there are some higher risk groups including, children under five, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, travellers from non-endemic areas and immigrant workers,” the department warned.
The World Health Organisation’s Global Malaria Programme is calling upon endemic countries, donors, organisations and communities to work together to reduce malaria cases and deaths.
The South African government is working with different partners to ensure that sufficient resources are invested in eliminating malaria.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS