HARARE, Zimbabwe (PAMACC News) - Elliot Nzarayebani throws a lump of soil violently in a small dam of dirty water near Gutaurare Business Centre in eastern Zimbabwe; he shakes his head as a swarm of mosquito buzz off the edges of the pond.
Sadly however, it was in the middle of June, one of the coldest months on Zimbabwe’s calendar; a month when mosquitoes are not commonly seen in this part of the country.
“You see we still have mosquitoes even in the middle of winter,” Nzarayebani said.
And a bite from bloodsucking female mosquito transmits a number of serious diseases, including the deadly malaria, chikungunya, dengue fever,West Nile virus and Zika virus among others.
In this part of the country, it was rare to see mosquitoes in winter; but not anymore. And villagers are left at their wit’s ends as they don’t know why mosquitoes are now thriving in the winter temperatures.
Nzarayebani, who is a volunteer health worker in this area said local people were now encouraged to sleep under insecticidal mosquito nets even in winter.
“We have attended to many cases of malaria this past rainy season and our fear is that we will continue to see more cases even in winter. Times are changing. We don’t know whether the mosquitoes are now resistant to the cold weather or our winters are no longer as cold as they were before,” he said. “But the government is working hard to curb mosquito through various programmes including indoor residual house spraying in this part of the country”.
And in the city of Mutare, one resident Desire Zivanai Jongwe, vented his anger at mosquitoes on Facebook.
“Mosquitoes in Mutare resisting this cold weather; thought mosquitoes are for summer only,” Jongwe posted on his Facebook timeline.
And many people in Zimbabwe are now asking why there are mosquitoes even in winter.
Experts have proffered explanations for the
And according to Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Childcare a total of 170 897 malaria cases were in the first 15 weeks this year up from 108 788 during the same period in 2016 with 116 deaths.
And health experts said half of Zimbabwe’s 13 million people are living in areas where malaria was endemic.
A study published by the journal, BioMed Central revealed that the advent of climate change, especially increases in temperature, threatens to complicate the situation by extending the geographical distribution of malaria globally, in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.
The report said insecticide residual spraying has been documented as an effective way to control malaria and has been adopted globally by the WHO and national governments.
However, the report added, both insecticide resistance and climate change threaten to reverse the progress made by insecticide residual spraying in malaria control.
“Resistance has been reported in all four classes of insecticides approved by the WHO for vector control intervention,” the report said. “Variability of environmental temperature is suspected to complicate the situation through alteration in the genetic structure, and enzyme and protein profiles of mosquitoes”.
In Zimbabwe, the study also revealed, little research had been done on the interaction between climate change, temperature variability and insecticide resistance in malarial mosquitoes over time.
But researches have shown that mosquitoes were migrating from low to high altitude areas along river valleys in Zimbabwe the country’s “highlands will be climatologically habitable to malarial mosquitoes by 2015.”
And at the 10th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (ECTMIH) in Antwerp, Belgium, malaria control and elimination took centre stage, with various successful control mechanisms being proffered by experts.
One interesting aspect was a pragmatic approach to malaria surveillance through using pregnant women as sentinels in Tanzania while some countries are like Democratic Republic of Congo is using school based malaria prevalence survey.
But according to WHO, Sub-Saharan Africa continued to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden.
“In 2015, the region was home to 90 percent of malaria cases and 92 percent of malaria deaths,” a report by the WHO revealed.
However, in Zimbabwe, some local authorities have reverted to using the banned DDT to kill mosquitoes.
DDT was banned after environmentalists effectively lobbied for the stop to use the insecticide, arguing that it was not good for the environment.
Zimbabwe’s Mutare City Council director Simon Mashavave was recently quoted in the media as saying communities in the city that accepted the use of DDT quickly brought malaria outbreaks under control.