Namibia, Angola join hands to curb malaria
Windhoek – Angola and Namibia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will see the two countries working together to fight malaria. The two countries’ Health Ministers signed the MoU on World Malaria Day, which was commemorated on April 25 in Angola. With the backing of the World Health Organization, Angola and Namibia signed the MoU that launched the Trans-Kunene Malaria Initiative (TKMI). Namibia’s Health Minister Richard Kamwi and his Angolan counterpart Jose Vandumen signed the agreement in Namacunde, southern Angola to strengthen cross-border initiatives. The countries want to eradicate malaria transmission in the Trans-Kunene region comprised of Cunene and Namibe provinces in Angola and Kunene, Ohangwena, Omusati regions in Namibia. Statistics indicate that more than 230 000 malaria cases occur each year in the population of approximately 1.6 million in the region. The TKMI agreement drafted under the technical guidance and co-ordination of WHO Namibia and Angola country offices, and in collaboration with the SADC Health Desk, seeks to create common malaria prevention malaria. WHO Namibia country representative Dr Magda Robalo and Angola’s country representative, Dr Rui Vaz, welcomed the signing of the TKMI and reaffirmed their support for implementation of the programme. Regarding the operationalization of the TKMI, Robalo said: “Both countries commit to standardize and synchronize malaria control interventions such as indoor residual spraying, distribution of mosquito nets and early treatment of malaria cases with effective anti-malarial medicines. “Capacity-building, health promotion, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation are cross cutting interventions to be implemented as well.” Vaz added: “This initiative will certainly strengthen the existing co-operation between Angola and Namibia regarding the prevention and control of the main communicable diseases along the bordering areas, including the definition of therapeutic protocols to treat HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, the preparation of synchronized campaigns for polio immunization and epidemiological surveillance activities. “It will also be an entry point to intensify interventions aimed at ensuring the access to primary health care by communities living in the cross borders areas.” The TKMI was signed in recognition of the growing challenges faced along the common border and hampering malaria prevention and control. These challenges include: weak operational and logistical capacity which limit access to essential services such as diagnostics and medicines; increased population movement across borders; cumbersome administrative and legal requirements for the sharing of resources coupled with no clear protocols for sharing disease surveillance and control data to forecast potential disease outbreaks and institute timely interventions. In so doing, the TKMI will facilitate movement of goods, equipment, products, vehicles and health sector technicians across the border. Various arms of both governments, such as Home Affairs and Immigration, and Finance and Customs will put in place the necessary diplomatic, administrative and logistical arrangements necessary to ensure its success.