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Zimbabwe: Rise in Malaria Deaths Worries Govt

GOVERNMENT is concerned with the increase in malaria deaths in Manicaland this year, and is coming up with targeted interventions to complement the Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) exercise currently underway in most parts of the country. Speaking at a workshop on malaria case management and IRS feedback in Mutare yesterday, provincial epidemiology and diseases control officer Dr Munyaradzi Mukuzunga, said Manicaland had recorded at least 137 confirmed cases of malaria deaths since the beginning of the year. "The rise in malaria cases this year was not unique to Manicaland. All provinces recorded a higher death rate than the previous two years due to increased rainfall received last year following an El Nino- induced drought. In Manicaland, we recorded transmission of malaria in previously non-transmitting areas," he said. He said other contributing factors included the movement of people within the borders and across the border with Mozambique as a result of the influx of refugees into the province following disturbances which occurred in Mozambique. He added that the teams conducting the IRS had also met challenges with people who refused to have their houses sprayed. "Of the 137 deaths recorded in the province, about 45 percent was recorded in Mutare city. The city was recently declared a malaria zone following the unprecedented increase in confirmed cases of malaria. Chipinge recorded 23 deaths, followed by Mutasa with 16 deaths and Buhera and Chimanimani with 12 deaths each. Nyanga and Makoni recorded the lowest number of deaths in the province at eight and four, respectively. Dr Mukuzunga said delays in reporting to health facilities for testing and subsequently treatment of malaria had also been a major factor in deaths recorded, as well as the increase of people who bought malaria medicines from vendors in the community.

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