Namibia: Flooding hampers malaria prevention

WINDHOEK – Important strides have been made to fight malaria in Namibia, which mainly affects people living in remote rural areas in the northern parts, but the recent heavy rains have put a damper on those strides.

In the Kavango East region, northeast Namibia, where over 4,500 cases have been reported, the Ministry of Health and Social Services is busy disbursing resources to control the situation.

In Mukwe village, 35-year-old qualified nurse, Lydia Nketa, was recently deployed to help out at the village after the malaria broke.

She is part of the field teams that are doing mass testing and mass treatments for those who present symptoms but have not fallen sick as yet.

“What we are doing is like taking the hospital to the people. We carry out fever testing and administer treatment to block the malaria once the symptoms have been detected,’ she said.

She and 60 others were deployed this week by the Ministry of Health and Social Services as volunteer nurses from nursing schools and other partnering organizations as well as 10 environmental health staff from non-malaria regions.

The teams first receive additional training from the Malaria Elimination Program (MEP) which is mainly situated in the northern region to tackle the malaria situation.

“MEP is trying its best but their efforts have been in vain because of the floods that are coming from neighboring Angola,” she said.

Nketa said that the floods had made the situation worse and had also complicated the response because it is difficult to access the remote villages where the floods are severe.

“Some families have lost their homes due to the floods and thus they have been displaced to even the remotest areas and this makes everything difficult,” she said.

Consult Care Director Ciske Smith said that there are some people who have been displaced so the field teams are moving around giving mosquito nets and other aid to alleviate their situation.

The ministry has also deployed the Ministry of Defense to provide helicopters to the hard to reach areas.

Smith said that they are anticipating a possible cholera outbreak because of the floods, adding that there had been problems of snake bites as well as diarrhea.

According to Minister Bernard Haufiku, 12.3 million Namibian dollars (0.95 million U.S. dollars) has been set aside for the prevention and eradication programme that will also see the army sending their helicopters and personnel to assist where the floods have cut off access to people in need.

Haufiku said that his ministry will deploy about 114 volunteers next week.

Governor of the Region Samuel Mbambo said that the situation is indeed a crisis but efforts by the ministry have eased the situation.

He said that the situation has been made worse by the people who are crossing over from Angola to seek treatment.

He said that by the time they swim over the malaria would have already advanced and they lose their lives thus the number of deaths and cases has increased.

At Rundu state hospital, the matron reports that the wards are filled with mostly children with an inflow of about 10 children per day while there is a shortage of personnel as most have been deployed into the fields.

Fifteen people have so far been reported to have lost their lives to malaria while over 7,000 cases have been reported nationwide.

The deployment of staff to the regions will run until mid May.

Source: Angola Press News Agency