by Charmaine Ngatjiheue

HEALTH officials this morning said malaria is an epidemic within the Covid-19 pandemic, and efforts to combat infection should be intensified.

MALARIA TALKS … From left: National director for special diseases Anna-Marie Nitschke, health minister Kalumbi Shangula and E8 ambassador Richard Kamwi.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Malaria Elimination 8 (E8) ambassador Richard Kamwi said while Covid-19 is the new number-one enemy, malaria has always been around and kills far more people.

He said sub-Saharan Africa is home to 90% of malaria cases globally.

Speaking at a press conference on malaria amid Covid-19, Kamwi said malaria and Covid-19 share fever as a common symptom.

He said Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and other countries reported a sharp increase in malaria during the first quarter of 2018/19, the malaria season.

“An adequate drug supply needs to be available to combat malaria. Let us consider putting up malaria infrastructure amid Covid-19 to be able to conduct surveillance,” he said.

Kamwi said in the fight against malaria, the E8 has decided to provide 10 000 units of malaria medicine to Namibia.

Minister of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula said since the malaria season started in December, Namibia has been experiencing a surge in cases – particularly in the Kavango West and East regions.

He said over 11 000 cases of malaria were reported by the country with 32 deaths in three months.

“Malaria has similar symptoms to Covid-19 and can coexist with other infections. The World Health Organisation is calling for malaria-combating efforts to be intensified, especially during the Covid-19 outbreak,” Shangula said.

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