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The National Department of Health joins the World in commemorating the progress made against malaria and reflects on the barriers remaining to make South Africa a malaria-free country. The theme for World Malaria Day this year is, “Zero Malaria – Draw the Line against Malaria”.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease and mortality can result from failure to seek treatment early. It is a disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes, which generally bite at night. This disease is completely treatable and curable if diagnosed on time.
Malaria remains a global public health concern with over 229 million estimated cases reported in 2019 and 94% of this disease burden, being reported in Africa.
According to the 2020 World Malaria Report, produced by the World Health Organization (WHO), Malaria deaths have decreased by 44% worldwide between the year 2000 – 2019 period, and it is estimated that 1.5 billion malaria cases and 7.6 million malaria deaths have been averted over the same period.
South Africa has made steady progress in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality over the past decades. Due to the decreasing trends in malaria cases in South Africa, the country is embarking on an elimination programme, targeting zero local cases by the year 2023.
South Africa is amongst several African countries that are affected by malaria, with transmission occurring seasonally, starting to rise around September/October and reducing towards May, with peaks in January and April. South Africa has three malaria-endemic provinces: Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.