By Anna Chibamu
HEALTH Minister Obadiah Moyo says the government’s effort to carry out malaria treatment has been derailed seriously by the outbreak of COVID-19 with all resources and efforts being channelled to fighting the novel disease.
He was speaking during the weekly Cabinet media briefing where he confirmed malaria deaths in Zimbabwe had reached 152 in less than two months.
“Malaria outbreak is for real and this is its peak season in Zimbabwe. The burden of testing has been hampered by COVID-19. Our teams that normally go out to test right now are experiencing slowing down of the process,” said Moyo.
Zimbabwe has 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including three deaths.
“This is an issue we are tackling because this is the season where most people get infected and a rise in cases of deaths is also high,” said Moyo.
Health experts predict malaria cases will continue to rise across Zimbabwe, although the correct figures may well be masked by families unable to access clinics or failing to report cases due to the national lockdown.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned Zimbabwe risked paying less attention to diseases such as malaria while fighting COVID-19.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the malaria community must remain committed to supporting the prevention of malaria infection, illness and death through preventive and case management services, while maintaining a safe environment for patients, clients and staff. Deaths due to malaria and its comorbidities (anemia, undernutrition, etc) must continue to be prevented,” said a recent WHO report.
Malaria, along with AIDS and TB, is one of the biggest killers in Zimbabwe.