Limpopo gears up for malaria fight amid Covid-19 restrictions

Limpopo gears up for malaria fight amid Covid-19 restrictionsMalaria-carrying mosquito. (File Photo)

Amid measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Limpopo province is also working to stop the spread of malaria.

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As the fight against Covid-19 continues, South Africa also has to combat another deadly disease, malaria.

Limpopo province is one of the country’s malaria hotspots. As we enter malaria season, authorities in Limpopo have embarked on an Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) campaign. The campaign, which started on 7 September, aim is to reach over 1,2 million households and structures.

“Indoor residual spraying prevents large scale community outbreaks,” explains department of health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana. “With good rains expected in the 2020/21 season, the projection is that malaria cases would show a moderate increase this year, compared to 2019/20.”

Climatic conditions such as rainfall and temperature affect the spread of malaria. Normally, the province can experience  between three and nine thousand  cases annually. In the 2019/2020 season, Limpopo authorities recorded 3689 malaria cases and at least 19 deaths.

Effects of Covid-19 restrictions

Last season, the department reached 95% of its target, spraying 933,000 structures. This year, however, the provincial department of health said they cannot employ additional members to assist with IRS.

“Due to Covid-19 pandemic, the department was unable to recruit and train additional spray operators, however, 365 community spray operators were employed,” says Shikwambana. “The department plans to spray for longer period, in order to cover all the risk areas.”

With lockdown regulations eased to allow travelling within the country and across borders, the non-profit organisation Malaria No More has created safety tips before leaving home.  They advise that travellers must first do their homework on the areas they are visiting and visit a healthcare professionals before embarking on the journey.

Once arriving in a malaria area, travellers should also cover themselves and prioritise indoor accommodation. The organisation also warned individuals to be wary of symptoms such a fever, headaches, chills and fatigue.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for approximately 93% of all malaria cases in the world, according to World Health Organisation (WHO). — Health-e News