By Eliaser Ndeyanale
MINISTER of Health and Social Services Bernhard Haufiku has called on all Namibians to participate in the malaria elimination campaign to achieve a “future free of malaria”.
This week Tuesday, the minister told journalists in Windhoek that over 6 000 malaria cases have been reported in the Zambezi, Kavango and Ohangwena regions alone with about 40 to 50 deaths having been reported so far.
“Malaria elimination should be made a national priority for not only the Ministry of Health and Social Services, but the national as a whole,” said Haufiku adding, “We should not wait for an outbreak to act. All Namibians should be called upon to participate in the elimination campaign, and together we can achieve a future free of malaria.”
The Minister also stated that in order to further support the regional response to the epidemic, a national taskforce was formed to mobilise additional resources and fill key regional gaps.
To this effect, Haufiku said, 61 nurses and 10 environmental health staffers have been recruited from non-malarious regions as well as nursing schools and other partner organisations.
“I am proud to deploy these individuals to the regions to provide much needed relief to overburdened staff on the ground.
You men and women have big responsibility to the people living in these at risk areas, and I hope it is one that you do not take lightly,” he said.
Haufiku who promised to put boots on the ground in the war against malaria, said his ministry will work hand in hand with the Ministry of Defence to deploy helicopters to ensure health workers can reach people in need.
Last week the Health Minister told the National Assembly that village headmen and regional councillors will assist with identifying local gathering points.
He added that the malaria outbreak response teams depend heavily on adequate resources and coordinated active surveillance in key transmission focus.
“The total budget for the outbreak response is N$2 132 600, of which the ministry has identified N$1 000 000 from its own resources, leaving a gap of N$1 132 600.
“Additional equipment needed for the response including tents and camping equipment, helicopters in order for medications and staff to reach flood-affected areas are being mobilised in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister.
“The ministry has formed a standing malaria surveillance, which meets weekly to discuss the situation and make recommendations.
This meeting consists of Ministry technical staff, World Health Organisation (WHO), Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and Elimination 8 Secretariat. Col-leagues from the Health Information and Research Directorate, Ministry of Defence, University of Namibia, nursing schools, health training centres will be included in this forum taking place on Wednesday (yesterday),” said Haufiku.
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