South Africa has recorded over 7 400 malaria cases between January and October this year, with only 17% of these having been locally acquired.
This means that more people got infected while out of the country, while the country logged at least 66 deaths during the same period.
The Department of Health has since urged all people travelling to and from malaria-endemic or high-risk areas to take the appropriate precautionary measures to prevent possible infection, as the country enters malaria season.
“Summer season marks the start of the malaria period in South Africa due to higher temperatures and increased rainfall in the malaria transmission areas,” the department explained.
Cases are starting to rise in some parts of the country, especially in high-risk areas.
Malaria symptoms include headache, fever, chills, and muscle and joint pain. The department advised citizens, who experience these signs, to visit their local health facility without delay for effective treatment.
“Late presentation to a health facility with symptoms is one of the contributing factors to increasing malaria morbidity and mortality rates,” the department said.
Malaria is defined as a life-threatening, but preventable and curable disease.
“Early detection saves lives,” the department stressed.
The department has since intensified its malaria response plan through screening and testing around borders in high-risk provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo throughout the year for early detection of imported cases.
The department is also embarking on public education campaigns and indoor residual spraying in high-risk areas every year from September until the beginning of the following year.
The department warned pregnant women and children under five years to avoid visiting malaria-endemic areas, unless they take extra caution.
As the Southern African Development Community (SADC) observed Malaria Day on Monday, the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) said it continues to target public transport nodes, such as taxi ranks and bus stations, to heighten education among the public on prevention measures.
This comes as Gauteng hospitals reported 1 105 malaria cases and 10 deaths from January to September 2023, as a result of the life-threatening disease spread to humans by mosquitoes in endemic areas.
“The majority of people who were admitted and those who have demised as a result of the disease had travelled to Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola,” the GDoH said, adding that these countries are known to be malaria-endemic regions.