THE End Malaria Council (EMC) has disclosed that Zambia recorded over five million cases of Malaria last year alone out which 1,214 lives were lost to the disease.
Speaking when he opened the religious leaders’ orientation workshop on malaria elimination organised by the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) in partnership with Isdell Flowers Foundation and the Anglican Council of Zambia at Mika Convention Centre in Lusaka, EMC member Right Reverend Bishop David Njovu said malaria was one of the top 10 diseases that accounts for 30 per cent of attendance at health facilities across the country.
“According to the Health Management Information Systems data (HMIS) for 2018, over five million cases of malaria were attended to in public health facilities. Out of these cases, there were a total of 1,214 deaths,” he said. “This shows that malaria continues to be a major public health problem in Zambia.”
Bishop Njovu, who is also Anglican Diocese of Lusaka Bishop, said the End Malaria Council recognises the negative impact of malaria and as such it has put in place interventions such as indoor residual spraying (IRS), use of long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets (LLINs) and giving of malaria preventive medicines to pregnant women, all aimed at preventing malaria.
He said the EMC has also ensured that prompt diagnosis and treatment with efficacious anti-malarial medicines was available for those diagnosed with malaria. Bishop Njovu said the EMC has also explored new ways of clearing the malaria parasite at community level through mass drug administration (MDA).
“The EMC has decided to eliminate malaria by the year 2021. This is in line with the aims of the World Health Organisation and with those of regional bodies such as SADC’s Elimination 8 initiative, that have also selected malaria as one of the diseases that should be eliminated by the year 2030. However, Zambia wants to lead the way and eliminate by the year 2021,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bishop Njovu said the National Malaria Elimination Strategic Plan (NMESP) 2017-2021 needs over $658 million to carry out the activities of eliminating malaria as outlined in the NMESP 2017-2021.
“A total of US$658,189,028 is needed to carry out the activities as outlined in the NMESP for the five-year period. Zambia is proud to be associated with the many global partners that include the Global Fund, United States President’s Malaria Initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Isdell Flowers Foundation Cross Border Malaria Initiative, Churches Health Association of Zambia to mention but a few who are supporting the malaria elimination agenda,” said Bishop Njovu. “The Church mother bodies stand a great chance to influence the public and private sector in the uptake of these interventions and in resource mobilization.”
And CCZ general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya called on religious leaders to encourage people in their congregations to allow their homes to be sprayed with anti-malaria chemicals to prevent malaria. He said religious leaders must combine the use of faith and science because the two complement each other.
“When you remove faith from science, science becomes blind; then you have all kinds of awkward scientific research that are also very harmful. (But) when the two work together they complement one another. The Pastor would be closer praying (while) the doctor would be there ensuring that the right medication is given. That very skill and the knowledge is all given by God. The trees and every resource that we use to find medication were given by God,” Fr Chikoya said.
He said there was nothing sinister about sleeping under a mosquito net.
Fr Chikoya also told religious leaders that while the sick can be healed by miracles, it was not a sin for people in their congregations to go to health facilities to seek medical care whenever they felt unwell.