Deaths in South Africa from malaria have skyrocketed from 14 in 1992 to 423 last year, health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said on Monday.
The number of reported cases of malaria have also increased from 2 872 to 61 934, she said in written reply to a question by Democratic Party MP Mike Ellis in the National Assembly.
However, only 16 763 cases of malaria were reported and 46 people have died between January and May this year, showing a downward trend.
The most affected area is KwaZulu-Natal, followed by Mpumalanga and the Northern Province. There have been no cases, or deaths, reported outside these provinces either last year or so far this year.
Tshabalala-Msimang said that the department had increased its efforts to deal with the plague through the national malaria control programme. She cited the reason for the decline in the number of malaria cases for the 2000/01 season, was due to the sensible use of DDT, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.
Other factors were improved disease management and the introduction of a new drug - Co-artem - used to treat multi-drug-resistant malaria.
The spraying activities in Mozambique, a project partly funded by South Africa, had also contributed to the drop in the number of malaria cases in South Africa, she said.
Genetic shield for malaria