South Africa will spend an estimated R2 billion a year over the next four years in a bid to rid the country of endemic malaria, the chief director of communicable diseases, Dr Frew Benson, said.
Benson, speaking in Durban at the launch of a report detailing how the country plans to eliminate malaria from the country by 2018, said currently the country spent about R250 million annually combating the disease.
This would increase to R500 million a year.
"Our budget at the moment is R250 million. We have estimated that we are going to need double of that."
That amount would be spent on spraying, providing nets and treating those who contracted the disease.
Many cases from outside SA
He said that 70% of the cases reported in South Africa originated from people who contracted the disease outside the country's borders, but developed the sickness once inside the country. Of these so-called "imported cases", Benson said 70% originated in Mozambique.
"We now have the majority of our cases coming from Mpumalanga. The next most number of cases is Gauteng. All of the cases there are imported cases."
Benson conceded that South Africa's ability to eliminate the disease could be threatened by conditions in neighbouring countries, especially Mozambique.
While South Africa funded its own malaria eradication programme Mozambique was dependent on donor funding to fight malaria.
"Last year they [Mozambique] had problems with [obtaining] insecticides. Part of their [anti-malaria] programme has fallen through.
"We are looking at ways on a local basis that we can support them," he said.
Some 10% of the country's population lived in areas where malaria was endemic, namely Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.
In 2000 there were 64 500 cases of malaria with 460 deaths. This had decreased to 6 847 cases and 70 deaths.
According to the World Health Organisation an estimated 655,000 people die from malaria every year.
Of these deaths, 91% are in Africa.