The United Nations Children’s Fund and Zimbabwe's Ministry of Health released some good news on Wednesday, which was Africa Malaria Day: new cases among children and pregnant women have declined 40 percent in the country in the past two years.
UNICEF’s Harare spokesman, James Elder, said this is thanks to the widespread use of some 400,000 insecticide-treated bednets which have been distributed countrywide through funding provided mainly by Japan, Norway and Britain.
Elder told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that while this is encouraging news, it remains to be seen if there has been a decline in deaths from malaria, which has been the second biggest killer of children after HIV/AIDS.
In 2000, heads of state and government signed the Abuja declaration which set goals for the prevention and control of malaria in support of the UN Millennium Development goals. Reports said Zimbabwe's "roll back malaria" campaign has now met the target of ensuring that 60 percent of all children under five years of age in malarial zones sleep under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.
Despite the overall decline in new cases among children and pregnant women, Dr. Billy Rigava, president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association, said physicians are concerned about a steep increase in new malaria cases in Zimbabwe’s cities.