Rising deaths from malaria crying shame
The biggest embarrassment of our times is that malaria, a disease, which is preventable, remains the number one killer in our country besides gobbling up colossal resources in medical treatment and loss of loss of productive time as those afflicted are nursed back to good health.
Ironically, as malaria continues to ravage the Mainland, Zanzibar has largely brought the menace under control. The increasing huge economic and social losses from a disease we can keep at bay with basic preventive measures, is a crying shame, indeed!
Besides the 80,000 people who die annually due from malaria, the disease also eats up 3.4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or some Sh157.3 billion. This is too heavy a burden for a poor economy like ours to bear.
And the tragedy does not end there. Health Permanent Secretary Blandina Nyoni says 60 per cent of those who die are children aged less than five. But Zanzibar, which is part of the Union Government, has been able to eliminate malaria by a whopping 99 per cent, demonstrating that the killer can be tamed!
Mosquitoes that transmit malaria breed in dirty pools of water, which are to be found in many neighbourhoods and compounds. Pit latrines used by a majority of Tanzanians in rural and urban areas are also a healthy breeding ground.
Bushes near households are perfect hiding places for mosquitoes waiting for the night to attack children, women and men. To begin with, a continuous sensitisation campaign is a must. Secondly, it’s known the world over that legislation shapes the way the society behaves.
Laws and by-laws with heavy penalties must be enacted to force the people to improve sanitation in their neighbourhoods, clear bushes and drain pools of water.
This will only be possible if leaders in the rural areas, district heads and municipality bosses join hands in a campaign to deny mosquitoes breeding places. This is the most cost effective way of curbing malaria deaths.