HLB frustrated by residents’ refusal to cooperate in malaria control measures

4 weeks ago
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By Thandeka Matebesi

HWANGE Local Board (HLB) has expressed dismay at the alarming rate at which most residents are refusing to undertake malaria control measures. 

HLB environmental health technician Mr Nqobile Ndelaphi Mabhena said it was saddening to note that most residents are perennially barring teams under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s National Malaria Control Programme to carry out in-door residual mosquito spraying at their homes.

This integrated vector control strategy does not only assist in the eradication of mosquitoes only but it exterminates other pests as well.

“If you look at our statistics in terms of rooms sprayed (over the years), you will find that we range below 50 percent because people don’t allow the spraying teams to enter their homes. It’s even worse at the (Hwange) Colliery side. The occupants tend to come up with timid excuses while others bluntly refuse,” he said. 

The local authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care conducts annual in-door residual mosquito spraying in Hwange urban in December in an effort to reduce the pests’ population and malaria cases in the area.

Mr Mabhena said malaria cases in Hwange have generally been on a slump over the past few years.

“Nowadays we are no longer having many cases of Malaria. Of course there is a period between February and March that’s when we experience isolated cases but there are no longer as alarming as in the past years,” he said. 

Mr Mabhena attributed the decrease in malaria cases to a reduction in the mosquito population.

“The type of mosquito which is in abundance in the district is mostly the nuisance mosquito, this doesn’t spread malaria, but due to movement of people, one might bring the anopheles mosquito from elsewhere,” he said.

 Mr Mabhena however, said the District together with Binga remain susceptible to malaria due to high mosquito presence. 

“The challenge with Hwange, is that we have a lot of water bodies emanating from leaking water pipes largely due to old infrastructure. If you look at our breeding sites, it’s mainly where we have continuous presence of water mainly due to leaking pipes. The anopheles mosquito, which spreads malaria favours clean water. It does not breed in dirty water but of course these other nuisance mosquitoes can breed in sewer water,” he said.

Malaria remains one of the leading causes of death in Africa including Zimbabwe.

“Other districts are at pre-elimination stage where usually they have imported malaria cases. At these districts people use barrier methods to prevent themselves from mosquito bites. They also conduct focal spraying, targeting areas where mosquitoes are densely populated and nets are widely used as a barrier,” said Mr Mabhena. 

The Ministry of Health and Child Care last distributed mosquito nets in Hwange in 2012.

“The critical message, which we are disseminating is that people should have their houses sprayed to reduce the mosquito population. In as much as they are to use barrier methods against mosquitoes, these can only protect them from being bitten at that particular time,” said Mr Mabhena.

Contacted for a comment, Greater Whange Residents Association Coordinator Fidelis Chima said the local authority should develop proper communication with the residents, informing them why they need to spray their homes.

“The local authority should do a lot of public awareness before rolling out the exercise. You can’t do an exercise the same way and expect the same results. I am failing to understand why they blame the residents,” said Chima

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