South Africa can potentially eliminate malaria by 2020 by cooperating with neighbouring countries to stop cross-border transmission of the disease.
Prevention is the only way to eradicate the scourge of malaria in South Africa by 2020, as set out to be one of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) global goals, according to Profmed CEO Graham Anderson.
In South Africa, “great strides have been made” in this regard, but prevention, rather than cure, needs to become the priority. Anderson said preventative measures such as cross-border collaborations, indoor spraying of insecticides and education were vital in the battle against malaria.
“We believe that with every health issue, prevention is better than cure. South Africa has the potential to reach the goal of elimination by 2020, by shifting its focus from reducing case numbers to the greater goal of stopping the transmission of malaria.”
President Jacob Zuma received the African Leaders’ Malaria Alliance Award for achieving the malaria millennium development goal target at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January. “While there has been an 82% overall decrease in the incidence of malaria in SA between 2000 and 2016, the number of confirmed malaria cases increased from 8 645 to 11 705 between 2013 and 2014,” said Anderson.
“We commend South Africa’s Department of Health and the WHO for their exceptional work in reducing the incidence of malaria, however, the increase between 2013 and 2014 highlights the need to be ever vigilant with preventative measures.”
According to a 2013 article in the SA Medical Journal, “one such measure is cross-border collaboration, which has been identified as South Africa’s biggest challenge in reaching elimination”. Added Anderson: “SA’s health and border authorities should work closely with their counterparts in neighbouring countries to share resources and ensure that policies and processes are aligned to reduce cross-border transmissions.”
Enhanced collaborative international efforts also had the potential to extend the effective life of malaria drugs and insecticides.