Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
ZIMBABWE and Zambia yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on technical cooperation in malaria control and elimination.
The agreement will result in the two countries combining efforts to conduct indoor residual spraying on either side of the Zambezi River.
The MoU was mooted in 2009 against a backdrop of challenges faced by the Sadc region as a result of malaria, when the World Health Organisation advised countries to cooperate in spraying and immunisation programmes.
A similar MoU was signed between Zimbabwe and Namibia on Wednesday in Harare where President Mugabe hosted Namibian president Dr Hage Geingob.
Next week the country will sign similar agreements with Mozambique and Malawi in Tete Province as the regional bloc fights to eradicate the disease.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa and his Zambian counterpart Dr Chitalu Chilufya presided over the signing ceremony where both countries expressed commitment to fighting the disease.
“This is an important day for us as we also deferred the World Malaria Day celebrations to coincide with this ceremony. We are one and must fight together. This process started in 2012 and we have been waiting for this event and now we can start implementing the programme,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He said they will be targeting malaria prone areas where distribution of mosquito nets, spraying and other programmes will be rolled out.
Dr Parirenyatwa said malaria cases in Zimbabwe had fallen from 136 last year to 26 so far this year, a significant drop although the country now faces serious challenges because of the floods experienced this year which increased breeding places.
Dr Chilufya said the signing of the MoU was a reaffirmation of brotherhood between the two countries and a sign of commitment by Presidents of both nations.
He said malaria is a major hindrance to social development as it derails poverty eradication measures, and kills people.
“This is an important day where we reaffirm our brotherhood hence we must all rise and fight together. We are committed as a government as we shift attention from malaria control to malaria eradication.
“We need to escalate community involvement in our programmes and include traditional healers, churches and whole community. Those who have died so far are enough,” he said.
The MoU will guide the two countries for the next three years where health ministries from either side will work together.
After the signing of the MoU at a local hotel, the two ministers proceeded to the Victoria Falls Bridge for the cutting of the ribbon ceremony which marks the start of cooperation in the fight against malaria in areas along the Zambezi Valley.