Officials have been going door-to-door, visiting families and diagnosing those who have symptoms of the illness. This is because of a growing concern for the increasing number of patients who are refusing to take malaria medication.
Earlier this month provincial MEC for Health Dr Phophi Ramathuba visited the Mopani area and specifically went to check on a family in Thapane Village who had all been hospitalised with malaria last year. She also visited the Morutji Clinic outside Tzaneen and became involved with her department’s on-going public health awareness campaign to educate the community about malaria.
Department spokesman Derick Kganyago emphasised that the climate conditions play a role in the spread of malaria but advised the community be aware of disease symptoms and to take medication when they are given it.
“We cannot be certain that the number of affected people will not escalate and surpass last season’s number. But what I can say is that the MEC is doing what she can to create awareness about the disease. The climate also plays a part in the spread of malaria,” said Kganyago.
“We are aware that some people refuse to go to hospital after they have been diagnosed with malaria by our team of practitioners on the ground who are going door to door. We don’t want to be harsh on them, but we will try by all means to encourage them to visit their nearest clinics and hospitals. This was one of the reasons we teamed with traditional leaders – to try to talk to them,” said Kganyago.
Malaria survivor Ishmael Ramalepe from Rwanda Village in Nwamitwa outside Tzaneen, whose family was admitted to Letaba Hospitals late last year, encouraged people to know the symptoms and seek treatment quickly.
“Three of my family members were infected but we were okay because it was still in the early stages. That’s why it’s important to know the signs, so you can detect it early on,” said Ramalepe.
“The government is failing to prevent malaria in our homes. I reported my situation to Malaria Institute offices and they never came to spray my home. I ended up taking my last money to buy chemicals,” he said.
Malaria can be prevented by burning mosquito coils or by hanging Mosquito proof nets over the bed, by staying indoors at night, wearing long-sleeved clothes and also by spraying aerosol insecticide in the house.