An environmental health expert has attributed the increase in mosquitoes in the past few weeks to poor waste management at community and household level.
The expert says the development is not normal.
His remarks follow observations that there is an increase in occurrence of mosquitoes, especially in residential areas in major towns of the country compared to the past seasons when this was more apparent during rainy season.
The expert, Michael Chimaliza, agreed with the observations that much as mosquitoes proliferate in areas where there is stagnant water but also hot and warm temperatures, this was more common in the rainy season which starts December to February.
It is for this reason that cases of malaria, a disease transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito, are more common during the rainy season.
However, information from the Ministry of Health (MoH) indicates that between July and December 2014, out of the 9 107 reported in-patient deaths, malaria was the leading cause of deaths of children under-five years old at 58 percent while death from acute respiratory infections stood at 19.4 percent, malnutrition 11.9 percent and diarrhoea 10.8 percent.
“Even though this is not rainy season, there is observable proliferation of mosquitoes. Of course, its summer time, so temperature favours that already. However, even though it’s not rainy season, poor waste water management in urban areas is creating too much pools behind houses and in roads all coming from houses that are failing to manage waste water,” said Chimaliza, who is also sanitation and hygiene specialist with the National Water Development Programme in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
He also observed that stagnant pools of water are even more prevalent in low-income areas of the country’s cities due to poor waste management at household level.
Chimaliza said it was time city councils started fumigating in public places on time.
He said much as not all mosquitoes cause a danger to health such as culine mosquitoes, they still cause uneasiness due to noise they make and the fear they inflict on people that they might be malaria causing (Entomophobea).
“This can even prevent you from enjoying nice weather on the verandah. It’s still a public health problem. What about the swelling they cause from biting?” Chimaliza stressed.
Lilongwe City Council public relations manager Tamara Chafunya said the city council had plans to start fumigation of mosquito breeding places, but this has not started yet.
She said fumigation takes place between August and November, but the Department of Health in the council has not embarked on the exercise yet.
The council’s efforts are supported by those of the Malaria Control Programme of MoH which conducts indoor residual spraying every year and distributes mosquito nets for free every two years, the programme’s director Doreen Ali said this week.
However, malaria continues to be one of the leading causes of death in Malawi even though the government has registered a decline in recent years.
According to a recent Malaria Indicator Survey, the decline is attributed to increased number of pregnant women receiving preventive malaria treatment and increased proportion of pregnant women and children under-five sleeping under an insecticide-treated net. n