More than six million new cases of malaria were recorded in Burundi in 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found.
The country, which has a population of just 11.5 million, is entering its third month of seasonal rain. According to WHO, more than 6.4 million cases of malaria were recorded between January and October 2017. More than 2,800 people have died as a result of the epidemic.
Dr Hatsindimana Jean, senior technical manager at World Vision Burundi, commented: ‘Traditionally, malaria cases spike in December and January. Children are the most vulnerable to the disease, as they don’t have strong immune systems to fight off the effects of malaria, particularly if they are malnourished. The vast majority of people rushed to health clinics are children under the age of 18’.
Dr Jean added that climate change, population density, shifting agricultural practices, food insecurity and a lack of prevention awareness are all contributing to the spike in malaria cases. The government of Burundi declared malaria an epidemic in March 2017 and has requested US $41.7 million to address to the situation.