A five-member team from the University of California-San Francisco's Global Health Group will help Namibia develop a strategic plan aimed at eradicating malaria in the country, the New Era reports. The team, which arrived in Namibia on Oct. 5, has conducted site visits in the country's malaria-endemic northern region and met with Prime Minister Nahas Angula on Wednesday to discuss malaria control efforts.
Richard Feachem, head of the delegation, said that the team is eager to help Namibia create a malaria elimination plan and identify funding gaps, adding that he is impressed with the health facilities he visited in the northern region. Feachem called for an "aggressiv[e]" scale up of malaria interventions, insecticide-treated nets and indoor insecticide spraying to meet the Southern African Development Community's target of eliminating malaria from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland by 2015. In addition, Feachem recommended that people carrying out indoor insecticide spraying also distribute ITNs to ensure maximum coverage.
Feachem also emphasized the importance of collaborating with neighboring countries on public health initiatives and suggested that Namibia hold a high-level meeting with health ministers from Angola and other countries to devise a regional plan for malaria control. Richard Kamwi, Namibia's minister of health and social services, has not yet submitted Feachem's proposal to Namibia's Cabinet for approval. According to Kamwi, Namibia's major challenges in the fight against malaria are a shortage of financial resources and a lack of skilled health workers. He noted that the country has only one malaria researcher with a master's degree and that many skills -- such as conducting blood smears, determining parasite carriers and examining drug resistance -- require a doctorate degree.
Angula suggested that the country mobilize young people in the fight against malaria. He added that the country is facing challenges in meeting many of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, particularly the targets related to health, and child and maternal mortality. According to Namibia's Ministry of Health and Social Services, malaria accounts for an average of 400,000 outpatient visits, 30,000 inpatient visits and 877 deaths annually in the country (Sibeene, New Era, 10/9).