Ethiopia braces for peak malaria season

Ethiopia, which is currently in the middle of a biannual spike in malaria, is scrambling to protect millions of citizens from the parasitic disease, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

Ethiopia, which is currently in the middle of a biannual spike in malaria, is scrambling to protect millions of citizens from the parasitic disease, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia, which is currently in the middle of a biannual spike in malaria, is scrambling to protect millions of citizens from the parasitic disease, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

"Some 60 percent of the [country's] 90 million population lives in malaria-prone areas, which cover 75 percent of the size of the country," Hiwot Solomon, coordinator of the Malaria Prevention Program at the Health Ministry, told The Anadolu Agency.

"[Yet] malaria has not surfaced on an epidemic magnitude and 23 million beneficiaries [of the program] only represent those who are feared to be affected during the peak season," she said.

Peak malaria season in Ethiopia is from September to December and April to May, coinciding with Ethiopia's harvest seasons.

"Our prevention activities focus on malaria-prone areas; we have already begun spraying anti-mosquito chemicals on over 5.4 million residential houses," Solomon said.

"Side by side with the spraying of the chemicals, distribution of canopies and the necessary medical equipment is also underway," she added.

The authorities have also launched an awareness-raising campaign, via the media and health workers, on means of preventing malaria.

A parallel campaign to drain swampy areas is also being carried out with the participation of the public.

Over the last five years, the number of people being affected by malaria has fallen by 67 percent, while the malaria mortality rate has fallen by 55 percent. 

According to Solomon, these achievements have been thanks to a government plan to prevent malaria in line with directives set by the World Health Organization.

Under the plan, she said, more than 59 million anti-mosquito nets have been distributed to the public free-of-charge over the past ten years.

The results suggest the possibility that Ethiopia could be declared malaria-free within a few years, she added.

The government has allocated a significant amount of its budget to malaria prevention, she said, noting that, in the past fiscal year, it had allocated over $24 million for the purchase of over 854,000kg of anti-mosquito pesticides.

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