Govt applies for funds to fight rare mosquito

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has applied to the United Nations Global Fund for funding to buy chemicals to combat a new breed of drug-resistant malaria. The disease has so far claimed 200 lives countrywide, with major cases recorded in parts of Manicaland.

Joseph Mberikunashe
Joseph Mberikunashe

Statistics released last week by the ministry showed most of the deaths were among children under five, who, together with pregnant women, are most at risk. The mosquito — anopheles funestus — suspected to have originated from Mozambique, has resulted in exceptional cases of malaria prevalence, transmission and mortality in the province.

In an interview the National Malaria Control Manager, Joseph Mberikunashe, expressed optimism at the prospects of getting the required assistance.

“We are looking at the acquisition of a combination of chemicals that are very expensive ,which we as a country cannot afford,” he said.

“We have dispatched enough malaria drugs to Manicaland, following an outcry over shortage of drugs at major referral hospitals throughout the province,” he added.

Control measures like the use of insecticide-treated nets and repellents have failed to eradicate the mosquito. Districts of Nyanga, Mutasa, Chimanimani, Makoni, Mutare and Chipinge that are closer to Mozambique are the worst affected.

Mberikunashe allayed fears in some quarters over his ministry’s intentions to reintroduce the banned dichloro diphenyltri chloroethane (DDT) to fight the new breed of mosquito.

The National Malaria Control Programme has been calling for the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor residual spraying as part of its malaria-prevention campaign.

DDT has been banned or restricted in many countries for decades, after scientists proved that it could cause reduced fertility, genital birth defects, cancer, diabetes and damage to developing brains. It also has a negative impact on the environment and agriculture.

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