Panos Institute Southern Africa (Pisa) has asked players in Malawi’s health sector to step up the momentum in the fight to eradicate malaria which is regarded as one of the country’s top public health problems.
Pisa executive director Lillian Saka Kiefer told Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Thursday that while government and its partners involved in the Malawi National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) have made progress in raising awareness of the disease, causes and remedies of the disease remain one of the country’s top public health problems.
Panos made the appeal in the context of the commemoration of World Malaria Day under the theme Ready to Beat Malaria.
She said the 2017 Malawi Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS) implemented by the NMCP confirmed that an estimated four million cases occur in Malawi every year.
On a positive note, Kiefer noted that the report showed there was a decline in malaria prevalence from 33 percent in 2014 to 24 percent in 2017, while possession of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) increased from 70 percent in 2014 to 82 percent in 2017.
She said: “Although the number of deaths has reduced owing to improved access to treatment and improved uptake of malaria prevention drugs, malaria is still one of the leading causes of death in Malawi, especially among children under the age of five.”
On support for malaria awareness interventions, Kiefer noted the reduced support to communication for health activities and sponsorship of media to report on the science part of the disease such as malaria and malaria prevention.
Despite 2017 MIS results showing improvement on use of intermittent prevention treatment during pregnancy (IPTP) by pregnant women aged between 15 and 49, Kiefer pointed out the increased need for the nation to address religious and cultural practices that discourage uptake of anti-malaria drugs.
Partners involved in the fight against malaria include health service providers, civil society organisations (CSOs) and communities. n