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Malaria epidemics on the rise in South Africa

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High numbers of malaria cases are being reported in the malaria transmission areas (Vhembe and Mopani districts) in Limpopo (including some cases in farms along the Lephalale River, Waterberg) and in Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga province.

Compared to previous years, a modest increase in cases in the Kruger National Park and private reserves in the area has been confirmed. This follows a very busy 2017 malaria season in the entire southern African region, which peaked in April and May and extended into June.

High rainfall, humidity and ambient temperatures provided ideal conditions for malaria mosquito breeding and contributed to an increase in malaria cases. Unusually mild winter temperatures in malaria areas have allowed for ongoing mosquito and parasite development and led to an early and busy malaria season which started already in August 2017.

The key prevention strategy of the malaria control programmes in endemic areas is spraying of households with long acting residual insecticides (IRS) which target indoor feeding mosquitos. This IRS programme is in progress in both Limpopo and Mpumalanga and is planned to target a larger area than in 2016. Early treatment of malaria cases is a key strategy. The antimalarial drug, Coartem remains highly effective in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria, provided there is early diagnosis and urgent commencement of treatment.

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Travellers from, or residents of malaria transmission areas in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, and the far northern KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia who present with fever and ‘flu-like’ illness must have an urgent blood test and malaria treated as a medical emergency. Misdiagnosis of malaria as influenza is not uncommon with disastrous consequences in a number of persons.

The Department of Health in South Africa is ensuring universal coverage of key interventions. This includes Indoor Residual Spraying, effective case management and ensuring that health promotion messages reach communities at risk of contracting the disease. All travellers to malaria risk areas must take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and medication to prevent malaria should be highly considered.

  • Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes, which generally bite at night.
  • Malaria is preventable, treatable and curable.
  • Travelers from non-endemic areas to malaria endemic areas and countries are vulnerable to the disease and need to take reventative measures.
  • Malaria symptoms appear within 10-15 days after the infective mosquito bite.
  • The symptoms include, fever, headache, chills and vomiting.
  • Early malaria diagnosis and treatment reduces disease severity and prevents deaths.
  • If people suspect that they have having malaria, they should immediately consult their health service provider to be tested and treated.
  • If not treated within 24 hours, malaria can progress to severe illness and death. Individuals are therefore advised to take personal protection methods when visiting malaria endemic areas within and outside South Africa.
  • Everyone is at risk of contracting malaria in malarious areas (see attached malaria risk map for south Africa), but there are some higher risk groups including, children under five years of age, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, travellers from non-endemic areas and immigrant workers.
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Health

Oyo govt. launches plan to reduce maternal, neonatal mortality rates, unveils ‘T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative’

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Oyo  State government on Wednesday, launched the ‘T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative,’ an effort aimed at reducing infant and maternal mortality rate in the state.

The programme, which was inaugurated at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, was equally aimed at improving the quality of reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child healthcare across the state.

Governor Seyi Makinde, who was represented by his deputy, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan, said at the launching of the initiative, that it aims to, among other things, reduce maternal mortality rate by 30 per cent and neonatal mortality rate by 20 per cent.

According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, following the launch of the initiative, the number of births by skilled birth in the state will increase by 30 per cent while the healthcare facility utilization in the state will also rise to 60 per cent.

While inaugurating the steering and technical working committees, the governor stated that the committees will oversee all the reproductive, maternal, newborn and Child health (RMNCH) programmes in the state, while giving insights into the direction things should go.

He assured that the state, through the initiative, will meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Number Three, which targets improving maternal health.
He said: “It is this project that we are here today to inaugurate – the T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative. As the name suggests, the initiative is for the mother and child. It is one key way through which we will be meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) number three, which targets improving maternal health.

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“Our plan is to ensure that qualitative Maternal and Child Healthcare services are offered at minimal cost. This will enable us to meet the objectives of this initiative.
“We are aware that in 2023, when this administration will be winding down, there will be another NDHS report. When that report comes out, we would like to see drastic reductions in these negative indices. Our goal is to reduce maternal mortality by 30 per cent and reduce neonatal, infant and child mortality by 20 per cent in Oyo State.

“To achieve this, by the grace of God and with the dedication, hard work and commitment of everyone involved in this project, we aim to increase the number of births by skilled birth attendants in the state by 30 per cent while also increasing the health care facility utilization in the state to 60 per cent.”

The governor added that the state will begin a pilot testing of some of the programmes under the initiative, noting that the state will advocate the meeting of the World Health Organisation recommendation of four or more antenatal care visits during pregnancy.

“So, we hope to start piloting some of the programmes under this initiative in the shortest possible time. One of the important things we will be advocating is meeting the WHO recommendation of four or more antenatal care visits during pregnancy.

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“The statistics show that when pregnant women are able to make at least four visits, the major complications that account for nearly 75 per cent of all maternal deaths are prevented.”
Governor Makinde, therefore, lauded the implementing partners for accepting to be members of the T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative, saying: “As you embark on your deliberations to provide a blueprint on how we are to achieve these objectives, I must especially thank the implementing partners for accepting to be members of this important initiative. I pray that your source of ideas never runs dry as you think up creative ways of getting us off that list of worsts,” the governor said.

Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bashir Bello, said the initiative is meant to ensure the welfare of the women before, during and after birth, particularly the new life they are bringing forth.

He added that the present administration in the state is committed to improving the health sector and changing the undesirable indices recorded in the National Child Health.
The Commissioner further hinted that the government will work towards seeing that every pregnant woman is insured with the support of local governments.

He said: “It is our belief that every pregnant woman, henceforth, will not only be insured but will also be given the necessary attention. With our authenticated preparation of the delivery, we are sure of what we are going to deliver. The very best attention we give to such a neonate will determine what is going to become of his or her future life.”

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Also speaking, the Special Adviser to Governor Makinde on Health, Dr. Funmi Salami, said the T’ỌMỌ T’ÌYÁ Initiative will contribute to a healthier and more prosperous society, as healthy babies grow into healthy adults who thrive and can contribute to their communities and society.

She stated that the mission of the initiative is to facilitate a consultative process among all stakeholders to identify priority areas and identify clear strategic directions for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH).

The event had the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka; Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun; chairman, Hospital Management Board, Dr. Gbola Adetunji; Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Mr. Jide Ajani; Representative of UNICEF, Tushar Ranee; Representative of WHO, Dr. Marcus Oluwadare and a host of others in attendance.

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Health

COVID-19: Oyo govt. urges residents to go for testing

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The Emergency Operations Centre, EOC, of the  Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force has called on residents of the state to avail themselves the opportunities of its decentralised testing system, to get themselves tested for the virus.

The Task Force added that contrary to misinformation that the virus has been defeated, it is still very much active, warning that adequate and observance of all the safety protocols remained the effective ways of combating the virus.

The Task Force, also said it has released a list of locations where residents of the state can undertake COVID-19 tests across the state.

According to a  statement signed  by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the list of centres was ratified on Monday at the state’s COVID-19 Task Force meeting presided by Governor Makinde.

The statement added that the available testing centres in the state include: State Hospital, Oyo; General Hospital, Saki; General Hospital, Iseyin; General Hospital, Igboora; General Hospital, Apata, Ibadan; Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan; Health is Wealth, Secretariat Road, Ibadan; and LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso.

It added that testing is also available in approved private laboratories across the state, stressing that residents can call the following numbers for enquiries: 08095394000, 08078288999, 08078288800, 08095863000 or dial *723*19*6# and follow the promptings.

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Health

Every year, 1.9 million people die from tobacco-induced heart disease – Report

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tobacco responsible for 20% of deaths from coronary heart disease

 

Every year, 1.9 million people die from tobacco-induced heart disease, according to a new brief released on Tuesday by the World Health Organization, World Heart Federation and the University of Newcastle Australia ahead of World Heart Day, marked on 29 September.

This equates to one in five of all deaths from heart disease, warn the report’s authors, who urge all tobacco users to quit and avoid a heart attack, stressing that smokers are more likely to experience an acute cardiovascular event at a younger age than non-smokers.

Just a few cigarettes a day, occasional smoking, or exposure to second-hand smoke increase the risk of heart disease. But if tobacco users take immediate action and quit, then their risk of heart disease will decrease by 50% after one year of not smoking.

“Given the current level of evidence on tobacco and cardiovascular health and the health benefits of quitting smoking, failing to offer cessation services to patients with heart disease could be considered clinical malpractice or negligence. Cardiology societies should train their members in smoking cessation, as well as to promote and even drive tobacco control advocacy efforts,” said Dr Eduardo Bianco, Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group.

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The brief also shows that smokeless tobacco is responsible for around 200 000 deaths from coronary heart disease per year. E-cigarettes also raise blood pressure increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Moreover, high blood pressure and heart disease increase the risk of severe COVID-19. A recent WHO survey found that among people dying of COVID-19 in Italy, 67% had high blood pressure and in Spain, 43% of people who developed COVID-19 were living with heart disease.

Governments have a responsibility to protect the health of their people and help reverse the tobacco epidemic. Making our communities smoke-free reduces the number of tobacco-related hospital admissions, which is more important than ever in the context of the current pandemic,” said Dr Vinayak Prasad, Unit Lead of the WHO No Tobacco Unit.

Tobacco control is a key element for reducing heart disease. Governments can help tobacco users quit by increasing tax on tobacco products, enforcing bans on tobacco advertising and offering services to help people give up tobacco.

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