BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,20TH APRIL,2022-Kenya has over the last decade been able to reduce the burden of malaria by at least 50 per cent from a prevalence rate of 11 per cent in 2010 to six per cent in 2020.
Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mutahi Kagwe said that this achievement was a result of concerted and sustained effort and collaboration between the Ministry of Health, the County governments, local communities, development partners in health and the global malaria community.
Kagwe said that in the last year, the government provided Ksh 1.2 billion for the procurement of malaria diagnosis and treatment commodities.
In a speech read on his behalf by Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman at a Nairobi hotel on Wednesday during the World Malaria Day media briefing breakfast, Kagwe said that working together with partners, the country registered over 14 million malaria diagnostic tests conducted and five million cases of malaria treated.
“In the prevention of malaria, over 324,000 pregnant women living in malaria-endemic areas of the lake and coast endemic counties received Intermittent Preventive Treatment for malaria during pregnancy,” said the CS.
Kagwe explained that between May and December 2021, 16 million Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLIT) were distributed to households in 27 Counties with the highest burden of malaria adding that these nets are providing protection from malaria to an estimated 25 million men, women, pregnant women and children sleeping under these nets every night.
“Further, the Ministry distributed 1.8 million LLIT bednets in 36 counties to pregnant women and children under a year old who are the groups most vulnerable to adverse outcomes of malaria infection,” said Kagwe.
“I am pleased to report that despite the constraints imposed by the Covid-19 containment measures in force then, the bednet distribution campaign achieved 100 per cent coverage,” said Kagwe.
The CS said that the ministry together with county governments continues with its current programme of Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) of households in Migori and Homa Bay counties offering protection to 2.1 million residents. This programme is likely to be expanded in the near future to other counties in the group of lake endemic Counties.
“To complement vector control interventions targeting adult mosquitoes, the ministry has included larval source management as an additional intervention in line with the Malaria Strategic Plan. The Kenya Cuba Malaria Vector Control Project which addresses this additional intervention was launched last year by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta,” said Kagwe.
Kagwe said that to date 275,000 Kenyan children have received at least one out of the four scheduled doses of the malaria vaccine while over 45,000 children have received their full course of four doses of the vaccine.
Africa Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) senior advisor Dr Willis Akhwale said that 34 counties in Kenya have a malaria prevalence of less than one per cent which is very good progress and means that fewer children will die and more lives will be saved.
Dr Akhwale said that the End Malaria Council (EMC) has been established to mobilize additional private and public sector resources to plug the gap in the implementation of the Kenya Malaria strategy.
“In Africa, 24 countries have either formed or are in the process of establishing their EMC, five of them that is Eswatini, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia are fully operational,” said Dr Akhwale.
Head of Division at the National Malaria Program Dr George Githuka said that overall Kenya has a malaria prevalence of six per cent which is not evenly distributed across the country.
“The areas with the highest-burden in the country are the lake endemic counties which are around Lake Victoria where one in five people have malaria at any given time. The second highest disease burden area is the coast region next to the Indian Ocean where one in 20 people have malaria at any given time,” explained Githuka.
He said that has started the malaria elimination agenda starting with the counties with the lowest burden of malaria and expanding it towards a malaria-free Kenya.