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News: Death toll from malaria outbreak in Western Oromia “significantly higher” – OPA

OPA dispatches two teams to West Wollega and Kellem Wollega zones (Photo:OPA)

Addis Abeba – The Oromia Physicians Association (OPA), non-profit professional association, has dispatched groups of doctors to Western Oromia to provide emergency healthcare services to communities battling an active malaria outbreak. The association said that the situation in the West Wollega and Kellem Wollega zones is “much worse” than what has been reported. 

According to OPA, reports from health offices of the West Wollega and Kellem Wollega zones indicate, over the past three months alone, 156,599 and 92,376 confirmed cases of malaria have been reported in the two zones respectively. The two zones account for more than 60% of confirmed malaria cases in the region.

“Considering totally damaged or non-functional health facilities to provide diagnostic and treatment services in most of the districts with high prevalence, OPA believes that the [reported] numbers undermine the true prevalence of the outbreak, and subsequent morbidity in these areas,” OPA said.

“The mortality rate is significantly high from the verbal report of community members,” it added.

In October, a physician working in the West Wollega zone’s health office, who asked not to be named, told Addis Standard that as of 12 October, a total of 222,268 people were tested and a staggering 128,150 (57.65%) were found to be malaria positive with 45 deaths registered within health facilities in the zone.

Furthermore, “OPA found it more disturbing to witness patients being sent home with no treatment or receiving underdose of antimalarial drugs as a result of nationwide shortages and transportation problems to these areas due to security issues.”

OPA’s emergency response teams arrived in Gunfi and Kobor villages of Begi district in West Wollega zone, as well as Gaba Robi and Machara villages of Hawa Galan district in Kellem Wollega zone with anti-malaria medicines and other medical supplies purchased with financial support from different stakeholders including the diaspora and its members. The association expressed its commitment to addressing the healthcare challenges posed by the malaria outbreak in the Western Oromia.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest situation report, that since January 2023, a total of 774,519 malaria cases with 180 deaths were reported in 117 districts and 7 major towns in the Oromia region, with over 70 per cent of the cases reported from Western Oromia, specifically from West Wollega and Kellem Wollega zones. AS

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