Fifteen people have died in a fresh malaria outbreak in Namibia, and another 6,000 people have been affected, the government said in a new report.
The Namibian reported Wednesday that nearly all the cases are clustered along the northeast border, with the Kavango East and West regions the hardest hit.
Health Minister Bernard Haufiku said at a press conference that because the situation has become critical, additional funding is needed to further prevention efforts. He is seeking an additional 7 million Namibian dollars to support regional teams to help diagnose and treat malaria patients. The deployment of additional funding and resources begins immediately and is planned to run through May 13.
He also called on Namibians to be proactive and not wait until they are too sick before seeking help.
The affected region is consistent with observations about the geographical distribution of cases in Namibia, which has for the most part made great strides in reducing malaria infection with a goal of elimination by 2020.
A Malaria Journal research article published in February 2017 noted that as transmission rates decline – from more than a half million in 2001 to just 14,406 in 2011 – Namibia focuses more on its hotspots.
“Controlled low-endemic malaria persists in northern Namibia and, in the absence of empirical data, is anecdotally attributed to importation from Angola,” the authors note, citing research results from 2014. Their study focused on how travel from Namibia to Angola was affecting malaria transmission in men.
Last month, the Angolan government confirmed more than 700 malaria-related deaths there, with more than 260,000 cases in the past year. Public health officials are concerned over the massive spike in cases, as well as their battle with cholera and yellow fever.