By Phyllis Mbanje

The national malaria programmes director in the Health ministry, Joseph Mberi, this week castigated some self-styled prophets who prevent patients with malaria from seeking treatment by falsely claiming that they are demon possessed.

Mberi said although the country had made some progress in containing the disease, which remains a leading cause of death in children, government was concerned about some “prophets” who discouraged patients from taking medication or seeking early treatment.

“Malaria is a preventable disease and no one should die from it. However, there are these “prophets” who are very prominent on some radio shows. They mislead the nation, and patients end up not going to the clinic,” he said.

“The disease is not caused by a demon or evil spirit, but a mosquito. Our message as the Health ministry is on how people can prevent themselves from being bitten and if they suspect malaria, to seek medical help immediately. The treatment is free.”

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Mberi said they were “fighting” a subtle war with the popular “prophets”.

“We are not against prophets, but all we are saying is that they should not mislead people. We have to help keep each other alive,” he said.

For years, Zimbabwe has battled to contain the disease, with the ultimate goal of totally eliminating it. The disease, according to United Nations Children’s
Fund, kills one child every second and about 3 000 children every day.

“It is slow progress, but we will not be happy until there are zero malaria deaths. Malaria is a preventable disease and so all efforts should be implemented to ensure no one dies from it,” Mberi said.

According to data from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, there were 264 278 malaria cases and 192 deaths from malaria in 2018, representing a substantial decline from the previous year of 44% in cases and a 63% in deaths.

Zimbabwe also continues to strengthen cross border collaboration with the neighbouring countries and continues to play an active role in malaria elimination.

Meanwhile, on April 25, every year, the world commemorates World Malaria Day highlighting the global efforts to control malaria and celebrating the gains made
since 2000.