A serious malaria outbreak in Manicaland province has claimed 10 lives, while more than 22,000 people were treated of the disease in one week alone. Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare shows that of the 22,480 cases reported last week, 3,546 and one death were children under the age of five years.
Health and Child Welfare Deputy Minister Douglas Mombeshora said a team of health experts had since been dispatched to the affected areas to contain the outbreak.
Minister Mombeshora said last week’s figures bring the total number of malaria cases to 62,587 and 32 deaths nationwide.
“We have already started recording an increase in malaria cases this year, following the incessant rains and some floods,” Minister Mombeshora said.
Last year, the country recorded 8,547 cases and 13 deaths of malaria, nationally. The outbreak in Manicaland has largely affected Buhera and Mutare districts but some deaths were also recorded in Mutoko and Harare. Zimbabwe has a long history of malaria outbreaks because of its high altitude.
Areas above 1,500m, such as Harare, are usually malaria free, while areas below 900m are normally a high risk to malaria, particularly in the north where the altitude is between 900 and 1500m.
In Zimbabwe, malaria endemic areas include Mutare, Gokwe, Mutoko, Dande, Chikombedzi, Mudzi, Hwange and Mt Darwin. After HIV and AIDS, malaria is the biggest killer of children under five in Zimbabwe and pregnant women, as well as newborns.
Malaria is increasingly becoming resistant to existing drugs. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of reported outbreaks, specifically linked to flooding. These include diarrhoeal outbreaks and malaria.
The sensitivity of the disease to certain environmental conditions suggests that climate change may influence the nature of the disease and the size and severity of outbreaks