Hoedspruit malaria eradication committee formed

By Dianne Tipping-Woods

The greater Hoedspruit community is tackling malaria head on – and needs your help!

Globally, malaria eradication programmes make use of indoor residual spraying (IRS), larviciding and smear testing and these will be the focus areas for the newly formed Hoedspruit malaria eradication committee.

With a record number of cases of the deadly disease recorded in Limpopo and Mpumalanga in October of 2017, the Department of Health and the private sector convened an urgent meeting to coordinate an approach to eradicating malaria in the area.

“In 2010/2011, we were almost there,with a very low number of recorded cases” says Erik Mabunda from the Malaria Institute in Tzaneen, but cases have risen steadily since then, peaking at almost epidemic proportions this year in Limpopo, where nearly 11 000 cases have been recorded so far and more than 100 deaths.

There is expected to be another spike in case numbers in January, March and April 2018.

Babies, children and immunocompromised individuals are especially vulnerable.

The meeting was attended by Dr Shiva Murugasampillay, Senior Advisor, Global Malaria Programme
from the World Health Organization in Geneva and many representatives from both Mpumalanga and
Limpopo health departments, SANParks, AWARD, Tanda Tula (Timbavati), Sabi Sand, Moditlo, Hlokomela, Raptor’s View and other concerned residents. It affirmed that the only way to locally combat the disease is for private residents to work with the health authorities on indoor residual spraying, larviciding and smear testing (screening)and treating.

The Malaria Institute has committed to provide training for a team of indoor residual sprayers.

For an IRS campaign to be effective, it needs to achieve 80 percent spray coverage in an area using the same spray and to a schedule (all spraying at similar times). Experts agree that a coordinated approach is more effective than ad hoc IRS, so the committee plans to work with them to ensure best practice and that there is a record of properties sprayed. This will ensure enough houses are sprayed and that they are sprayed as often as they should be.

“We don’t just want individual homes mosquito free, we want it out of the greater Hoedspruit and other affected areas,” said Laetitia Malet, who is coordinating local efforts. Lodges, game reserves, businesses, NPOs, residential estates, the farming community and other residents all have a role to play. According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), South Africa is aiming to eliminate malaria in the next few years. This is discussed in the NICD malaria booklet and in the following comprehensive malaria issue:  South African Medical Journal 2013 (Vol. 103 No. 10) (available online (open access) at samj.org.za). The Supplement is called Malaria: Control to Elimination.

The Malaria Institute will also provide training on larviciding.”We realise that many residents in Hoedspruit use septic tanks which serve aa breeding places for mosquitoes. This may be of particular interest to the farming community residential estates and game reserves. Larvicides are species specific and don’t impact other creatures in the environment.

Nurses from Hlokomela, a local NPO that offers primary health care services to farm and lodge workers, have already received training in smear testing by the Malaria Institute, but the successful NPOs efforts have been hampered by the fact that they don’t receive funding for malaria and each slide costs R250 to analyse at a laboratory.

To address this, there was a clear willingness by private sector representatives at the meeting to capacitate local health clinics and facilities, including those run by Hlokomela, to enable them to conduct an effective testing and treatment campaign. With microscopes and adequate access to treatment, the clinics can test farm and lodge workers and treat them if necessary.

The Malaria Institute has promised to assist Hlokomela with one microscope and also provide training on using it and identifying parasites from the blood smears.

This aligns with the Health Department’s ‘Test and Treat’ campaign, which according to Dr. Shiva Murugasampillay a world expert on malaria control, is particularly important in the lead up to the holidays, when workers may be travelling to other malaria areas and bringing the parasites back with them. It is possible to be a malaria carrier and show no or limited symptoms.

The Hoedspruit malaria eradication committee is now calling on the private sector – all farmers, businesses, lodges or just community members who would like to get involved – to support this campaign.

The immediate need is for people who can be trained in to effectively and safely spray for mosquitos.

These can be workers on farms or estates or in businesses who would be part of Hoedspruit’s spraying team and participate in spraying every 4 months with Malaria Institute recommended insecticides.

“The more teams we have the easier it will be for us to organise spraying to suit people’s different schedules,” says Malet. “This is our most urgent need as we would like to have them trained before the 24th of November.”

In addition, the team will need transport for the spray teams and equipment, volunteers who would like to actively participate in coordinating spraying efforts, and funds for fuel and equipment. At this stage, it is envisaged the Malaria Institute can provide the insecticides and larvicides, but there may be a need for additional funding for this too.

In addition to these efforts the Malaria Institute will continue with its work elsewhere in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, having budgeted R100 million and appointed 340 workers for its vector control programme in 2017.
Residents and visitors to Hoedspruit are still strongly encouraged to also make use of personal protection. This includes limiting outdoor exposure between dusk and dawn; covering skin with appropriate clothing; applying DEET-containing repellents to exposed skin; using insecticide coils, mats and sprays indoors; screening windows and doors against mosquitoes; and remembering that ‘flu-like’ illness might be malaria, and obtaining necessary medical care. Herbal and homoeopathic products are not effective in preventing or treating malaria. Citronella oil is not very efficient as a repellent.

The Hoedspruit malaria eradication committee is meeting again soon and there will be another update.

Contact Laetitia URGENTLY on 063 557 4478 or email: laetitia.hme@gmail.com if you’d like to be involved.

For more information on malaria in the area, reasons for its spread to new seeds areas and current spikes, READ THIS ARTICLE.

In addition, follow these tips on MINIMISING LOCAL MALARIA RISK.

If you have additional questions, please let us know and we’ll try and get some answers.

*I am on the Hoedspruit malaria eradication committee.

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