The Health Department says it has made progress in the fight against malaria in the country. Today is World Malaria Day under the theme “Zero Malaria Death starts with me” –  The globe recognizes efforts put into eliminating the disease.

Although the country boasts a low transmission rate, South Africans are urged to stay informed and remain vigilant.

Malaria is a parasitic disease, spread by female mosquitoes, and without treatment results in death.

Stats from the department show that 91% of malaria cases globally occur in Africa.

Deputy Director-General Yogan Pillay highlights some of the progress that South Africa has made in tackling malaria.

“In South Africa, we have seen a 73% decrease in the number of Malaria cases between 2000 and 2018. In the year 2000, we had about 64 000 cases of Malaria in South Africa that were diagnosed and if you fast-forward to 2018, that number has decreased to just over 17 000. And the same with Malaria deaths, we’ve decreased death by 74% between 2000 and 2018.”

Deputy Director of National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Professor Lucille Blumberg says “The greatest burden in the world is Sub-Saharan Africa. In our region, we have a number of countries where malaria is transmitted. Mozambique has the highest rate of transmission. In South Africa, malaria is confined to very far north of KwaZulu-Natal, low-veld areas of Mpumalanga including the Kruger National Park where risks aren’t that high and north eastern parts of Limpopo.”

While we are still in peak season, Blumberg adds preventive measures.”For people living in malaria areas in South Africa, the NPMCP  will spray the houses and that will give protection for people living in the area. For travellers going to malaria risk areas is to prevent mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are active after the sun goes down and when it rises, apply insect repellent to exposed areas, those containing deet.”

With the recent floods in South of KZN, Blumberg says residents shouldn’t be concerned but still remain vigilant.

“I think most of the floods were outside of the malaria area but there have been heavy rains within the malaria areas.”

This year, Paris is the official host of World Malaria Day.

A series of events will be hosted across the city to highlight the importance of the country’s contribution to eliminating Malaria.