Malaria cases on the rise

Estimated cases in Namibia increased significantly from only 2 590 cases in 2010 to 89 155 in 2017.

06 December 2019 | Health

Namibia accounts for 29.2% of suspected malaria cases in East and Southern and Africa (ESA).

This percentage is the second largest in the sub-region, behind the Comoros with 56% of the cases.

This is according to the World Malaria Report that was just released by the World Health Organisation.

The report says Namibia is also one of the countries that have shown a significant increase in malaria cases over the past few years.

“Estimated cases in Namibia increased significantly, from only 2 590 cases in 2010 to 89 155 in 2017, and only declined moderately to 51 898 in 2018.

“South Africa is the only country on track for reducing the mortality rate by 40%. The proportion of cases investigated was high in all countries except Namibia, possibly because of a lack of resources as a result of the recent resurgence in cases,” it reads.

It further says that Namibia showed an increase from 12 168 malaria cases in 2015 to 30 567 in 2018, while malaria related deaths increased from an estimated six in 2010 to 132 in 2018.

The report stresses the importance of funding to eliminate malaria, and indicates that international funding by the Global Fund to Namibia decreased from N$2.2 million to N$742 672 in 2018.

The report says on a global scale there was exceptional headway made in reducing the burden of malaria in the period from 2000 to 2015, which proves that progress is possible.

“Many countries with a low burden of malaria are moving quickly towards elimination. However, the rate of progress has slowed in recent years, and critical targets will likely be missed.”

In 2018, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide, compared with 251 million cases in 2010 and 231 million cases in 2017.

Estimated global malaria deaths fell from 585 000 in 2010 to 405 000 in 2018.

However, the rate of reduction of malaria mortality was slower in the period 2016 to 2018 than in the period 2010 to 2015.

The WHO African Region accounted for 93% of all cases in 2018. More than half of all cases were in six countries, namely Nigeria (25% of cases); Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%); Uganda (5%); Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique and Niger (4% each).

The report also points out that malaria takes a particularly heavy toll on pregnant women and young children.

In 2018, an estimated 11 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa were infected with malaria. This resulted in nearly 900 000 children born with a low birth weight. Globally, children account for nearly 70% of malaria-related deaths.

“Even when a healthy child is born, malaria infection in children can lead to severe malaria and, very often in the highest burden countries, severe malaria anaemia, which also puts the child at greater risk of death,” the report says.

ELLANIE SMIT

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