Institute manager, Erick Mabunda says despite the impact of the national lockdown due to Covid-19, they have three teams comprising four members each who are monitoring the ground and are able to trace infection cases reported. 

“We are continuing with the same system where we do tracing of all concerned cases. We don’t have a full team but we have got our case investigators who are doing surveillance on the ground. For all cases which are reported, we got people working on it,” says Mabunda.

“It [Covid-19] had an effect on the running of the programme because if cases are reported we have to recall a person from one area to another. We have systems in place where malaria cases can be reported, we have malaria connect and [the] malaria app. I’m always in the office where I’m able to reconcile everything, I’m able to look at the trends and monitor the situation.

However, they don’t have people doing door-to-door campaigns now. The teams are in Phalaborwa, Giyani and Collins Chabane and they are only doing malaria surveillance and tracing. Though there are cases being reported in the Mopani District, he mentions that the numbers are not overwhelming compared to last year.

“At the moment we don’t see a lot of cases compared to the other year. The only area that we are seeing cases now [are] reported in Tarentaal and Letsitele in Mopani but is not a big number, its two and three cases respectively, and those people have been treated at the hospital. 

“We are coping, as long as we are able to get all the cases and do the tracing. We were able to complete the spraying in time and more than 95% of households have been sprayed in the province. Our coverage was good.”   

According to the Department of Health, at least 3.2 billion of the world’s people are still at risk of contracting malaria, and an estimated 350-500 million clinical malaria cases occur annually. 

“In South Africa, malaria is mainly transmitted along the border areas.  Some parts of South Africa’s nine provinces (Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal) are endemic for malaria, and 10% of the population (approximately 4.9 million persons) is at risk of contracting the disease,” the department says. 

With symptoms such as fever, chills, and headaches, malaria and Covid-19 are similar. Mabunda says they have seen cases where residents mistakenly confuse a malaria infection with the coronavirus. He urges people to visit health centres if they suspect anything.

“The main thing for people if they spot the symptoms, [they] must visit the nearest health facility. So if you see the signs, the fever, the headache and the like, you have to go to the nearest health facility.” All facilities in the province have enough malaria treatment and testing kits, he says. – Health-e News