South Africa marks World Malaria Day

26 April 2016

Under the global theme “End Malaria for Good”, South Africa joined the world yesterday in commemorating World Malaria Day.

The Department of Health noted achievements had been made in reducing malaria incidents in the country and it had successfully realised its malaria targets contained in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“South Africa has reversed malaria incidents by 82% of the levels in the year 2000,” the department said.

“In this regard, South Africa was presented with the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (Alma) award for achieving the malaria goal of the MDGs at the Alma meeting for heads of state and government of the African Union in January 2016.”

Global stats

According to the World Malaria Report 2015 compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been a major decline in global malaria cases and deaths since 2000; mortality has decreased by 60% with 62 million lives saved.

See more positive global stats from WHO:

Malaria deaths drop

 Malaria children deaths drop

Drop in new malaria cases

“Between 2000 and 2015, malaria incidence rates (new malaria cases) fell by 37% globally, and by 42% in Africa,” said WHO. “During this same period, malaria mortality rates fell by 60% globally and by 66% in the African region.”

See the message from the WHO Africa regional director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti:

WHO identified South Africa has one of the 21 countries able to eliminate local transmission of the disease by 2020.

Treatment and progress

In total, 57 countries reduced malaria cases by at least 75% between 2000 and 2015, the report stated. Progress was made possible through the massive expansion of effective tools to prevent and treat malaria, such as indoor residual spraying, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, diagnostic testing and anti-malarial medicines.

According to the organisation, two forms of control have proven to be effective: insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS).

It said there had been an increase in use of these methods in Africa to increase malaria prevention.

  • Over the last 15 years, there has been a major increase in coverage of ITNs in sub-Saharan Africa. By 2014, more than half (56%) of the population had access to an ITN, compared to less than 2% in 2000.
  • In 2014, 116 million people globally were protected by IRS, including 50 million people in Africa. About 6% of the population at risk of malaria in Africa live in households that are protected by IRS.

But challenges still remain.

WHO’s Global Malaria Programme calls on endemic countries, donors, organisations and communities to work together to eliminate and eradicate malaria, a disease that is preventable, treatable and curable.

“With commitment, dedication and support of all governments and partners, the vision for malaria elimination and eradication is possible,” said WHO.

In endemic areas, everyone is at risk of contracting malaria, but there are some higher risk groups, including children under five years of age, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, travellers from non-endemic areas and immigrant workers.

Signs of malaria

Symptoms of the disease can be similar to those of flu, such as severe headaches, fever, joint pains, shivering episodes, nausea and vomiting. More serious symptoms include severe breathing difficulties, low blood sugar, severe anaemia, weakness of the body, convulsions, respiratory distress, jaundice, renal failure, repeated vomiting, shock, hypoglycaemia, black urine, abnormal bleeding and even coma.

Malaria in South Africa is seasonal, between September and May, and occurs in certain geographical areas of Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

Source: South African Government News Agency and World Health Organization