The central and southern parts of Botswana have been hit by a malaria outbreak with 336 cases recorded.
A statement from the World Health Organisation (WHO), this year alone, 2018, from epidemiological (EPI) week one up to EPI week 15, there were 339 malaria confirmed cases and two deaths. It further reveals that the transmission peak is observed in EPI week 14, which is the traditional peak each year.
“Malaria normally occurs seasonally in Botswana. It occurs during the rainy season of October to May,” reads the WHO statement.
In a recent press release from the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoH&W) permanent secretary, Khumo Seipone, the outbreak started in October last year and was expected to continue till the beginning of the just started winter season.
She said the sporadic outbreak was reported in Okavango, Ngami, Chobe, Boteti, Tutume, North East, Tonota, Bobirwa, Palapye, Mahalapye, Serowe, Kgatleng, Kweneng, and Moshupa districts.
In Botswana, it is not common for southern parts of the country to be hit by Malaria outbreak, as it is the case currently. The central and southern parts are said to be experiencing a high level of malaria transmission following the recent heavy rains.
According to the ministry’s chief public relations officer, Doreen Motshegwa, Kgatleng district has recorded the highest Malaria cases. She said the district recorded 51 cases in 2017 and 23 cases in 2018. From the cases recorded this year a child under a year was affected when the rest infected people aged between six to 80 years.
“To assist the situation, the ministry has intensified community mobilisation activities, conducted door to door campaign, media campaigns, kgotla meetings and has conducted contact tracing.”
“On the other hand, on a national level, we visited Sikwane catchment and other places where cases where detected like Lelotong, Ramakolonyane and Rabotsiripa. We also assisted in sourcing demand-responsive transit (RDT) from other facilities, where there was none at content management system (CMS), conducted community mobilisation through the media, especially radio and television and availed drugs and Education and Communication (IEC) material. We have also support the district through surveillance,” she said.
However, Motshegwa said they experienced some challenges such as inadequate transport to respond to cases on time, low capacity to respond in terms of entomological support, inadequate resources such as camping equipment in terms of community outreach, late seeking health behaviour by the community and inadequate knowledge by the community on the importance of up keeping clean environment to prevent breeding of the parasite.
Symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, nausea, and body aches; early symptoms usually appear between seven and 15 days after the contaminating mosquito bite.
There is no vaccine but preventive medications are available.
Pregnant women, individuals with weakened immune systems (such as those living with HIV), children under the age of five, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the disease.