By Deogratias Mmana
Government’s dependence on donors for malaria fight could risk the lives of the country’s population as 14 districts are in the red, needing immediate Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) to kill mosquitoes that spread malaria.
The districts that are in red and need of immediate IRS include Neno, Mwanza, Salima, Nkhotakota, Likoma, Mchinji, Ntchisi, Rumphi, Dowa, Kasungu. Chikwawa, Mulanje and Mzimba South.
These districts are shown on a chart titled ‘Malaria burden by incidence 2021’ from the National Malaria Control Programme.
Donors, through the Global Fund, have just managed to consider four districts for IRS at the cost of K7.5 billion in 2021. These districts include Balaka, Nkhata Bay, Mangochi and Nkhotakota.
National Malaria Control Programme Manager George Kayange confirmed in an interview that the 14 districts are in red and need IRS but added that there is no donor who has committed funds for that campaign.
Further, he said the IRS campaign needs to be conducted for four years for effective results. This means that spraying in the 14 districts for four years would require over K100 billion.
“Four districts need K7.5 billion per year to be sprayed and K26 billion is needed for the 14 districts for one year. But the Global Fund is not committed and the government is not committed. This campaign requires domestic ownership,” he said.
He said without IRS, the population would continue depending on mosquito nets but he warned that the nets have a lifespan of only two years.
According to Kayange, estimated donor funding on malaria in 2021 was as follows: K15.5 billion for malaria commodities; K7.5 billion for IRS for four districts; and K26 billion three-year mass campaign where Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) are expected to be distributed to 25 districts.
Kayange also said there was no commitment from anyone to continue with the K26 billion LLINs mass campaign which ends in 2023. He said the mass campaign is done every three years.
“In 2023, if no nets are available, cases of malaria will rise again,” he said.
The Ministry of Health has 2017-2022 strategic goals to reduce malaria incidence by 50 percent by 2022 from 2015 baseline, thus 386 per 1000 population to 193 per 1000 population.
It also seeks to reduce malaria mortality by 50 percent by 2022 from 2015 baseline, thus 23 per 100,000 population to 12 per 100,000 population.
The ministry also dreams to eliminate malaria by 2030.
Health rights activist Maziko Matemba urged government to support the malaria programme as malaria cases are the highest in Malawi compared to other diseases.
“We are aware that Global Fund and the Global Malaria Initiative do support some Malaria programs in Malawi but more needs to be done,” he said.
He said: “The IRS malaria programme from Global Fund through World Vision and Ministry of Health is making a difference in controlling malaria in some districts but it requires heavy investment. At the moment it is costing the donor K26 billion a year in four districts but we have other 14 districts that require this important IRS program.”
Matemba hoped that the Ministry of Finance national domestic resource mobilisation strategy effort would raise adequate resources to be allocated to malaria.
Ministry of Finance spokesperson Williams Banda recently said Treasury provides funding to ministries as per cash flow and Parliament appropriation.
The Ministry of Health also failed to roll out “Zero Malaria Starts With Me” campaign which President Lazarus Chakwera launched in June, 2021 because the government could not provide K1 billion.