Zimbabwe records increase in malaria cases and deaths in 2013

Zimbabwe experienced at least 55 deaths and 123,969 cases of malaria through the ninth week of 2013, nearly doubling the number of cases at the same point last year, according to a Ministry of Health spokesperson.

Staneford Mashaire, the focal person for national malaria case management in Zimbabwe's Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, said the country experienced 67,000 malaria cases and 49 deaths during the same time period in 2012. Mashaire attributed a recent malaria outbreak in the ninth week of 2013 to recent flooding, the Zimbabwean reports.

"There is one confirmed outbreak in Mutasa while Goromonzi and Chiredzi are not yet confirmed," Mashaire said, according to the Zimbabwean. "We received a petition from Mashonaland East requesting inside door residual spraying as cases of malaria were on the increase. We have since deployed reaction teams to assess the ground for further assessment in both areas."

Mashaire said the health ministry conducted mosquito spraying in 45 out of 63 health districts and distributed mosquito nets in 30 districts most prone to malaria.

"Of the 30 districts, 23 have received their nets including Mutasa where we have just distributed 90,000 nets to 37,433 households," Mashaire said, according to the Zimbabwean. "We also conducted public awareness programs, recruited and trained 150 village health workers to offer rapid tests and treat patients in the community in order to curb the outbreak."

Malaria is a disease caused by the plasmodium parasite that is typically acquired after a bite from an infected mosquito. More than 50 percent of Zimbabwe's population resides in potential malaria transmission areas, the Zimbabwean reports.