Burundi declares malaria epidemic

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The Burundian government has declared malaria an epidemic as the number of deaths from the disease passed 700 in the first three months of the year.

“On the basis of conclusions made by a team of experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) and updates made by the national epidemiological surveillance system, the ministry confirms that Burundi is these days facing a malaria epidemic,” Burundian Public Health and AIDS Control Minister Dr Josiane Nijimbere said on Monday evening in a press briefing.

According to her, at least 700 people died as a result of malaria since January this year until March 10.

“This means that an average of ten persons are killed by malaria every day in Burundi,” Nijimbere said.

She added that statistics show that out of some 10 million people living in Burundi, over 8.1 million of them had malaria in 2016.

Nijimbere said, “Since the beginning of this year (2017), health structures countrywide recorded over 1.8 million malaria cases, that is, a 13 percent increase of malaria cases comparing to the same period in 2016.”

She added that the most affected areas include Burundi’s northern provinces including Kirundo, Muyinga, Karusi and the eastern province of Cankuzo.

Other affected provinces with a somewhat reduced rate include Ngozi, Kayanza, Gitega, Rutana and Ruyigi.

She indicated that the reason behind malaria rise include climate change and failure to use preventive measures like the use of mosquito nets.

“We have set up a strategic plan to address the malaria epidemic. The needed budget is estimated at 31 million U.S. dollars and we have started the mobilization of those funds. We are going to distribute free drugs to malaria patients and we have also set up mobile clinics in the most affected areas,” Nijimbere said.

She indicated that some extra medical staff members are going to be deployed to the most affected areas.

“We are also going to distribute mosquito nets and we will sensitize citizens how to use them properly,” Nijimbere added.

The last time that the east African nation declared malaria an epidemic was in 2002. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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