PALAPYE: Malaria is reportedly on the rise in the Central District, with a recent Ministry of Health study showing 12 cases and one death in Serowe during the 2014-2015 transmission season.
This is an increase from nine cases the previous year.
Traditionally, malaria in Botswana has been a regular feature in districts north of the country. While efforts in the north have largely proven successful in containing the disease, statistics unveiled last week suggest non-malaria areas are shrinking.
In a Malaria 2014/2015 Transmission Season Evaluation workshop held at Serowe Hotel last week, stakeholders noted that cases of the disease were climbing in the Central District.
Speaking at the meeting, Mokwena ward councillor, Atamelang Thaga, confirmed that the village had seen rising cases in recent years.
“Serowe is considered a low malaria density district but it has seen a rise in cases from nine reported cases in the 2013-2014 transmission season to 12 cases in the 2014-2015 transmission season with one fatality. “This includes seven cases from Mokwena ward alone,” he said.
The councillor said malaria is a major health problem requiring the community in the district to review and strategise on how best to combat it.
“Promoting awareness about malaria to other partners can play an important role in developing strategy, mobilising resources and supporting interventions for malaria elimination,” he said.
“Ongoing collaborations and participations in malaria elimination efforts by clinicians, district health teams, educators and communities are essential if we are to achieve zero locally acquired malaria infection in our district,” he said.
Malaria focal person in the Serowe District Health Team, Kapesa Palangwa, said investigations were carried out to identify the source of the outbreak in the district.
“Part of our investigations involved visiting the homes of residents in the affected areas for the purpose of contact tracing and screening,” he said.
“The reported cases indicated during investigations that they never travelled to malaria endemic areas before and thus it was therefore probable that they were bitten locally.”
Palangwa added that their investigations concluded that the district had been prompt enough in reacting to the outbreak and the national authorities had been notified on the impending outbreak. As a result, appropriate interventions had reached the community in good time.
Palangwa, who is also a principal registered nurse, said as part of the efforts to contain the disease, the community had been addressed and informed of the outbreak in their locality. “The community was addressed on the malaria outbreak in the locality and different aspects of the disease through a kgotla meeting. An opportunity was taken to also address the community on the signs and dangers of malaria and they were warned to present to health facilities as quickly as possible from the onset of signs and symptoms,” he said.
However, according to a report compiled by a medical entomologist, Davies Ntebela, malaria in Botswana has generally been restricted to the northern areas such as Chobe, Okavango and Ngami districts.
“Back in the 1980s malaria cases were reported in Nata/Gweta and from the early 1990s the region has become a malaria hotspot. Bobirwa sub-district, which in the late 1990s only reported a few cases, has now become a well-established malaria transmission area.
“In 1996-1997 Gantsi district experienced a huge malaria outbreak,” he said.
The Central District has not been spared from the disease in 2010 there was an outbreak of malaria in Mahalapye sub-district, said Ntebela. In recent years, the Serowe/Palapye sub-district, Kweneng and Kgatleng districts have also reported sporadic cases of the disease.
According to Ntebela’s report, the recently noted expansion of the malaria zone in the country is a serious challenge to the country’s goal of eliminating the disease by 2015.
“It could also undermine the gains made so far,” he added.