Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states are wrapping up the second day of high level talks aimed at improving primary health care and advancing systems of responding to disease outbreaks.

The SADC Health Ministers’ annual meeting taking place in Polokwane is being chaired by South Africa’s Aaron Motsoaledi.

The ministers are concerned about increasing cases of outbreaks of diseases such as Malaria.

Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dorcas Makgato says her country is hoping to device new strategies towards the prevention of non-communicable diseases.

Health Ministers from SADC countries have been discussing ways to improve their response to disease outbreaks.

Countries not attending the  annual meeting are Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius and Malawi.

SADC countries are prone to outbreaks of diseases such as Malaria. The recent outbreak of the bubonic plague in Madagascar is also being discussed at the meeting.

In Botswana, the direction is slowly shifting from a curative primary health care approach towards a preventative one. Dorcas Makgato is Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness.

“For Botswana, my current worst type of space that I need to be at right now is non-communicable diseases, if you look at the amount of resources I am spending on non-communicable diseases it is three fold if I take Malaria, HIV and TB the price or the resourcing level of that I have to multiply three times to confront NCD’s that is why as Botswana we felt it was imperative that we transition we move from curative because it is unsustainable to focus our energies on the wellness aspect of it.”

Health challenges in Namibia are mainly centred around securing enough funds. Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services, Bernard Haifuku believes more funding is needed to address health problems.

“We know that the whole bloc Southern Africa is in an economic case your own country South Africa Namibia and many of our country and that should serve as a challenge for us to be more innovative to be more prudent to be more efficient with the little resources that we get so what we are doing here is basically sharing experience devising common strategy how to end TB to end HIV to commonly tackle diseases that are affecting all of our countries in Southern Africa.”

Malaria is the key focus at this year’s discussions. A plan to eliminate the mosquito borne disease by 2020 in four of the worst affected countries, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland is on the table.

The plan to eliminate malaria altogether by 2030 includes four additional countries which are Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Swaziland’s Minister of Health Sibongile Ndlela talked about the importance of spraying against the Malaria mosquito at the borders of all countries affected.

“The issue of cross border on the Malaria issue. We have got what we call ‘Mosaso’, which is Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland. We are saying a mosquito has got no border, so it’s very important that when we spray, we spray at the same time and through E8, that is elimination 8 countries. South Africa and Swaziland, they are in the front line and we are expected by 2020 that we should eliminate Malaria.”

South Africa’s Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the ministers also deliberated on the need to eliminate TB. The ministers will travel to Moscow in Russia next week, to attend the World Health Organisation’s plenary meeting ahead of a conference to discuss Tuberculosis next year.

“ We deliberated on TB on our position in Moscow next week because in Moscow in Russia next week, there is an international meeting called by the World Health Organisation together with the Russian federation, to discuss and prepare the position of the health sector to United Nations high level meeting in September next year. Heads of state are going together in New York specifically to discuss TB. This is the first time in the world that heads of state have to sit and discuss TB.”

The ministers will travel to Giyani on Friday, where member states will observe Malaria Day by spraying households against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.