Lockdown-A double Tragedy For Mutoko As Malaria Hits Hard
Zimbabwe is facing a deadly malaria outbreak amidst the Covid19 pandemic. This is adding pressure to the already strained healthcare system as the country is battling to contain the pandemic.
By Nkhosiilathi Ncube
The malaria outbreak has affected close to 135 585 people across Zimbabwe, killing more than 200 in just 17weeks. The World Health Organization has called it the largest surge as compared to the previous year.
In Mutoko at Lot shopping center located about 150km away from Harare villager have been hard-hit villages and face a double tragedy.
Lindiwe Kadiki a widow from Mutoko has been depending on tomato farming. Ever since the death of her husband and she has managed to raise her three children through farming. " Farming is our source of livelihood as we working up around 5am every day to work in our garden. Mosquitos are a big issues as we feel the bites all over the body every day but we can not stop working because that is where our income comes from." Lindiwe said
"Now the malaria outbreak hit us hard". It has claimed my nephew's life and my son has been infected as well, He is seriously ill but our local clinics do not have enough medication and the lockdown has restricted our movements to the clinics," she added. Ministry of Health and Child Care Mashonaland Central Provincial epidemiology and disease control officer, Dr Stanley Tapesa noted that the cases of maralia have increased and control measures are being implemented. These measures include targeted spraying in affected areas and the rapid response teams in each district are implementing different interventions.
Speaking to Women's Voice Zimbabwe, women in Lot said, that a number of people have been infected with malaria and some are being turned away from clinics that are not under their ward or councilors. Most of the reasons are the lockdown restrictions and in some cases, the councilors turn you away because of your political affiliation.
"People in the village are succumbing to malaria in their hundreds and l am also a victim. We are failing to get mosquito repellent lotions or even mosquito nets to prevent being infected because we are just tomato farmers we can not afford any of these expensive stuff," said Tariro Katsande one of tomato farmers.
Loss of income, malaria outbreak, lockdown restrictions and limited access to health care is the tragedy of the worst-hit malaria community. “We sell our tomatoes along the Harare-Nyamapanda highway. That is how we put food on the table. However, due to the lockdown life has become difficult. We are now facing challenges reaching buyers due to restrictions in movements said Mazvita Musademba another tomato farmer. This has resulted in a significant fall in prices of tomatoes and due to the lockdown movement restrictions, very few buyers, their tomatoes are rotting.
The Acting District Medical Officer Mutoko Dr Prince Mangwiro said volunteers were on the ground mobilizing to start respraying in the areas that had presented as Malaria hotspots for the District. “We are embarking on this exercise as a mitigatory measure in light of the increases in cases this Malaria Season. This season has seen a sharp rise to 14806 from 4756 in 2018 and 5817 in 2019 respectively. People have been doing a lot of outdoor activities such as market gardening as source of livelihood. 12 deaths have also been recorded this 2020 hence the fight to recline the sharp curve. Some of these deaths come from religious objectors who refuse treatment as well as obstruct treatment for their church members,” he said.
"Because of that we do not have the money for transport to go to Mutoko district hospital for Malaria treatment and the local clinics do not have the medicine. We are just stuck in our homes," she added.
According to the World Health Organization report, Malaria is a serious illness that can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated quickly. Pregnant women and children are at high risk. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned Zimbabwe that there is a risk of paying less attention to diseases such as malaria while fighting Covid-19. Malaria community must remain committed to supporting the prevention of malaria infection, illness and death through preventive and case management services while maintaining a safe environment for patients, clients, and staff. Deaths due to malaria must continue to be prevented.