Programs Manager for the National Malaria Control Program Dr. Michael Kayange said the IRS program under implementation in four malaria hotspot districts of Nkhotakota, Nkhata-Bay, Mangochi and Balaka has so far helped to reduce malaria cases by half.
Dr. Kayange was speaking yesterday in Nkhotakota during the launch of the 2021 Indoor Residual Spraying Program also known as Mpopera.
He said as the program approaches its deadline next year in Nkhotakota, they will be discussing with financiers to extend the program duration adding malaria cases still need to be stopped in the district.
“You do not stop Indoor Residual Spraying until you have substantially reduced the malaria cases and you have also brought in place the alternative of controlling or sustaining the reduction, so will discuss with the donors,” he said.
However, Dr. Kayange said the IRS is an expensive vector control program compared to mosquito nets which the ministry of health is using in other districts.
According to Dr. Kayange every district uses up to K4 billion per year in the IRS program.
“This activity is important for the country because we are targeting the highest burdened districts so that we can bring down the malaria cases that were so huge,
The IRS is costly which is why we only select districts that have the highest malaria cases, the rest, 25 districts of the country get mosquito nets which are also effective.”
Director of Health and Social Services (DHSS) for Nkhotakota, Dr. Wezzie Mumba Mwakilama lauded the IRS initiative for bringing down malaria cases in the district.
“In 2017 before IRS, if we send malaria suspected cases to the Lab, 90 percent would come out positive, but after we started in 2018 we noted a drastic drop.
Dr. Mumba added that in 2019, out of 1000 suspected malaria cases, 300 would come up positive which was a great improvement.
She encouraged people in Nkhotakota to allow their homes to be sprayed saying 100 percent spray coverage would further help reduce malaria cases.
On his part, Nkhotakota Acting District Commissioner Ben Tohno, called on civil servants to have their houses sprayed.
“Statistics show that civil servants and those in better jobs have not been having their houses sprayed so I had to let my house sprayed first to set an example and encourage fellow civil servants,” he said.
The National Malaria Control Program under the Ministry of Health is implementing the five-year IRS project with support from US Agency for International Development (USAID) through the US President Malaria Initiative (PMI).
In Nkhotakota, the program is in its fourth year, the third year in Mangochi and Balaka, and second year in Nkhata-Bay.