Malaria has killed hundreds of people and infected close to two million in Burundi as the government struggles to contain a rising epidemic. Burundi’s Health Minister Josiane Nijimbere said on Monday that “some 700 deaths” had been registered across the country since the start of this year.
“Burundi faces a malaria epidemic,” Nijimbere said, adding that latest figures showed a 17-percent increase from the same period last year. The minister was commenting on a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO), which said recently that from January 1 to March 10 this year, 1.8 million Malaria infections were registered in Burundi.
Three thousand people died last year from an infected population of 8.2 million people in the African country of 11 million people. Nijimbere said various factors were to blame for the rise in the epidemic, including climate change, increased marshland for rice-growing and the population’s misuse of mosquito nets.
The minister appealed for international help and donations to help fight the disease, saying fighting malaria would cost the country about $31 million (29 million euros). According to UN officials and other sources, Burundi is grappling with dwindling resources in the fight against Malaria as reports say the country’s stock of anti-malaria medication is nearly empty.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease with symptoms that include fever, fatigue, vomiting, and headache. In severe cases, it can cause seizure, coma, or death. Many say political turmoil has also exacerbated health problems in Burundi. Hundreds were killed and hundreds of thousands fled the mountainous country after President Pierre Nkurunziza decided in April 2015 to run for a third term. The chaos caused a shrink of about 54 percent in the 2016 health budget.