South Africa on Friday advised travellers to take measures to prevent contracting malaria, one of the world’s biggest killer diseases.South Africa issued the advisory as the 16-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) observed SADC Malaria Day on Friday.
Malaria, according to health experts, kills a person every 15 seconds worldwide – making the anopheles mosquito-transmitted disease one of the deadliest ever – and Africa bearing the biggest burden with 92% (or 213 million) of cases worldwide.
“Malaria is a preventable and curable disease, when detected early and treatment is started promptly,” South African health ministry spokesperson Popo Maja said.
South Africa, however, has made steady progress in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality over the past decades, Mojo said.
“Malaria cases have decreased by 78% from 64,622 cases in the year 2000 compared to 13,833 cases in the year 2019, and malaria deaths have also decreased by 82% from 459 to 79 deaths between 2000 and 2019,” Maja said.
He revealed that South Africa is one of four SADC countries targeting malaria elimination (zero local malaria transmission) by 2023.
“The key challenge that South Africa faces is a high number of imported cases from travellers and workers entering the country from neighbouring high burden malaria endemic countries,” the official said.
SADC Malaria Day, observed on every year on 6 November, is aimed at creating awareness about the disease and to mobilise communities to participate in the malaria control programmes, according to the office.
This year’s SADC Malaria Day is observed under the theme, “Community Involvement is Key to Achieving Zero Malaria”, with ‘Together We Defeat Malaria’ as its accompanying slogan.