1 About ten kilometers on the eastern outskirts of Rundu is the town of Mayana, an area characterized by flood plains.
2 In fact, Mayana means flood plains in the local dialect and is named after the low-lying land surrounded by water.
3 “We have many bodies of water here and mosquitoes breed everywhere,” explains Johannes Lipayi, AFRO 2 Malaria project coordinator for the villages of Mayana and Sikondo, located in the Kavango East and West regions.
4 The village is located in one of the five districts in the five regions selected to participate in the malaria case reduction study due to the high number of malaria cases and deaths in those areas.
5 The other districts are in Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, and Kavango West. The study was part of ongoing efforts by the World Health Organization (WHO) to support Namibia in its fight against malaria.
6 This three-year pilot project was implemented in 2018 with the aim of reducing malaria transmission through larvicides while using environmentally friendly chemicals.
7 “We were trying to see if the water bodies where mosquitoes breed, if treated with a biological agent, would contribute to reducing the mosquitoes that transmit malaria,” explains Dr. Florence Soroses, Coordinator of the National Malaria Project of the WHO.
8 “Before the implementation of the project in this town we had many cases of malaria and deaths.
9 But as soon as the program started, the cases started to go down,” Lipayi explained.
10 The community has always been open to initiative.
11 When word of the project spread, the community gathered in large numbers at the chief’s house to ask how they could get involved, Lipayi explained.
12 “When we compare this village with others where this project has not been implemented, you can tell the difference,” Lipayi said.
13 In 2020, 13,633 malaria cases were recorded in Namibia.
14 Of this number, 40 people died of malaria.
15 In 2021, 13,740 cases of malaria were registered in the country.
16 The number of deaths dropped to 15.
17 “Even when we were reporting the data, we could see a decrease in malaria cases compared to previous years before the project was implemented,” Lipayi said.
18 Meanwhile, Markus Kamburu is a 42-year-old father of five.
19 For the last three years, Kamburu has been employed as a field operator in the malaria project in the town of Mayana.
20 His work schedule started at 6 in the morning and sometimes he needed to work night shifts depending on the workforce.
22 In addition, Kamburu and two other teammates were also responsible for conducting larval surveys, a process that includes monitoring the activity and density of mosquito larvae in breeding sites.
23 They started by counting the number of households in the town and found that the town has 3,365 houses.
24 Of these 20 houses were randomly selected to be part of the study.
25 The team identified 65 breeding sites.
27 “These are the hatcheries that we always monitor to see if there are any larvae.
28 If there are larvae, we do larvicide.
29 However, early on, we started with the mapping process and then we did larvicides for the breeding site that we identified if there were any larvae there,” Kamburu explained.
30 Kamburu says that he had no prior knowledge of larval identification and no technical knowledge of malaria.
31 He was appointed by the village chief in 2018 when he started the project.
32 “The chemicals that we used for larvicides were very impressive because when we use them, we expect to find larvae in two or three days when we come back.
33 We’ll find the larvae floating around already.
34 We were also collecting adult mosquitoes.
35 Even when the mosquitoes are adults, we still collect some.
36 So this process actually combated the mosquitoes at all stages of their lives and thus reduced malaria,” Kamburu explained.
37 In addition to applying larvicides, Kamburu says the team also uses the prokopack aspirators, which work like a vacuum to collect adult mosquitoes resting outdoors.
38 This process is usually carried out in the early hours of the morning.
39 For mosquitoes that rest indoors, use the CDC light trap to catch adult mosquitoes at night.
40 “These are the methods we use to collect the mosquitoes in the village,” he explained.
41 After collecting the data, the team records and sends samples for further analysis to their supervisor, Dr. Soroses in Windhoek.
42 “We have an organized system that we use to record and send the data to Dr. Soroses,” Lipayi explained.
43 The WHO injected N$1 million for the project.
44 In May, funding for the project officially came to an end, with the community and WHO hailing it as a success.
47 “I go out into the community to raise awareness about malaria.
48 I also carry the equipment to demonstrate how we do our job,” he added.
49 The project also helped him financially because he was able to pay for his son’s higher education.
50 “The WHO invested a lot in these people.
51 My hope is that the Ministry of Health and Social Services or the private sector will take over the project so that their knowledge does not go to waste,” Lipayi said.
52 He too fears malaria cases will rise again.
53 “These people know the methods used in malaria control and are very knowledgeable about it.
54 They attended annual workshops and trainings and now it is up to the government to analyze their plight and take charge,” said Lipayi.
55 Echoing similar sentiments, Mayana village leader Berthold Shinimbo called for investment in the malaria project.
56 “This will allow the community to take charge.
57 As you can see, we have a high unemployment rate,” Shinimbo said.
58 The AFRO 2 project was implemented with the aim of strengthening national capacities for the implementation and scale-up of evidence-based, innovative, diversified and environmentally friendly malaria vector control interventions, with a particular focus on winter larvicides.
59 as an additional vector control tool to achieve malaria.
60 phase-out by 2022.