Malaria related deaths surge in Lumezi District

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Lumezi District Health Director Evans Phiri has bemoaned the high number of malaria deaths in the district.

Dr Phiri expressed worry that the district has continued to record fatalities due to malaria, with a total of 21 malaria deaths being recorded between January 1 and December 31, 2020.

ZANIS reports that Lumezi district last year recorded 713 malaria cases per 1000 population.

Dr Phiri revealed that Lumezi district recorded the highest malaria incidence rate among all the 14 districts of Eastern province.

 “Lumezi District recorded the highest malaria incidence in the province that is 713 per 1000 population, we also recorded 13 fatalities in patients under 5 years old and 8 deaths in adults for 2020,” he said.

Dr. Phiri attributed the high number of malaria incidence resulting in death to poor health seeking behavior which remains a major challenge in communities.

 “As a district we are scoring notable successes in the elimination of malaria. However, the high malaria incidence can be attributed to poor health seeking behavour because patients do not complete the full course of treatment,” he said.

Nevertheless, Dr Phiri observed the notable strides that government has recorded in the agenda to eliminate malaria despite the high incidence trend.

In particular, Dr Phiri acknowledged the positive participation and cooperation from traditional leaders during the Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) campaign.

“We were able to score successes for IRS campaign, we had a target of 24,240 structures and we were able to spray 24,335 structures giving us a percentage of 1.02%. So, basically we went above the target of 100% due to massive involvement from traditional leadership and the community,” he said.

The District Director of Health also mentioned that out of 23 health facility catchment areas, a total of 37,236 structures from 20 health facility catchment areas  where captured to have received Long Lasting Insecticide Nets LLINs.

“The number of structures that were provided with LLINs were 37, 236 from 20 health facility catchment areas and the 3 catchment areas that were not covered by LLINs campaign that is Mwimba, Mukasanga and Zokwe were completely covered under the IRS campaign,” Dr Phiri explained.

Meanwhile Lumezi Mission Hospital Nurse In-charge Sister Hermmenegilda Mbagha has advised that in addition to  consistent and correct use of LLINs, there is need to manage the environment to eliminate malaria in communities.

Sr Mbagha indicated that malaria cases tend to increase during the rainy season due to mismanagement of the environment.

“The number of malaria cases is usually high in quarter four which is during the rainy season due to ditches that may collect water and become potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” she said.

Sr Mbaga remained optimistic that the district can achieve a malaria-free status as sensitization campaigns on interventions to eliminate malaria are on-going. “For this year, sensitization of malaria elimination will continue and we would like to show gratitude to Vector-link and Development Aid from People to People for the support rendered to the hospital during IRS and distribution of LLINs,” she said.

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