Malaria prevalence drops to 5.6 percent

Kenya’s malaria prevalence has decreased from 8 percent to 5.6 percent in the last five years, preliminary findings in a new report shows.

According to Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman, the report dubbed the Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey 2020 had been carried out across the country.

“Last year, we carried out a nationwide population survey for malaria in the country and some of the preliminary findings indicate that we are making strides in the war to control and eliminate malaria in the country,” said Dr Aman on April 25, 2021.

Among the key findings of the survey are a drop in the overall malaria prevalence from 8 percent in 2015 to 5.6 percent in 2020.

The CAS who was addressing the press on World Malaria Day confirmed that the lake and coastal regions have also recorded a drop in prevalence rates,.

“The lake region which has the highest malaria burden in the country has also recorded a drop in the prevalence rate from 27 percent to 19 percent. The coastal region prevalence has fallen from 8 percent to 4.5 percent reflecting a reduction of almost 50 percent,” Dr Aman said.

Despite the good news of the reduced incidence of malaria, Dr Aman admitted that the continent was still a long way off the ALMA targets of 40 percent reduction of prevalence by 2020 and eradication of malaria by 2030.  

“We need to identify the resource and financial gap in eliminating malaria, which adds up to 24 billion. For this reason, the president set up the End Malaria Council in February to mobilize private sector resources to boost the government and donor partners in the fight against the age old and persistent disease,” said Dr Aman.

The CAS said youth in the eight counties will be involved in the campaign against malaria, including school age children.

“In line with President Kenyatta’s call to ensure the involvement of youth in malaria control efforts, youth from the eight counties will be involved in this project for sustainability. The children will also be involved in helping us identify and eliminate mosquito larvae breeding sites,” he said.  

Youth advisor and communication expert William Dekker said the youth will be involved in major aspects of the anti-malaria campaign from distribution of the nets to community education activities.

“The most visible feature of the youths is their energy and vitality. Among the activities youths will be will be involved in is distribution of anti-malaria commodities, the indoor residual spraying (IRS) activities,” he said.

“We will also help the youth in the production of viral videos to educate their communities on how to prevent the transmission of malaria and when to seek treatment in case a family member shows malaria symptoms,” added Mr Dekker.

Dr Aman also confirmed the ongoing joint project between Kenya and Cuba on the elimination of malaria vectors using biological methods at mosquito breeding sites.

“In 2019, Kenya signed an agreement with the Cuban government which successfully managed to eliminate malaria in 1973. The agreement was for countries to undertake a two year project on the use of biological methods for the control of mosquito vectors,” said Dr Aman.

He said the project that covers eight counties is ongoing, with the arrival of Cuban experts expected to boost the country’s efforts to halt mosquito breeding at targeted sites.

“The much awaited technical cooperation between Kenya and Cuba has come to fruition. Experts from Cuba arrived in the country this week. They will be working with Kenyan counterparts at both national and county levels to map out key breeding sites for spraying using biological methods to kill mosquito larvae,” he said.

Dr Aman said the country’s Malaria Control Program had shifted from handling malaria outbreaks to actively working to prevent them in high prevalence areas. This strategy, he said, would include the empowerment of communities through tools and information to curb the spread of malaria.

“Our plan as per primary health care guidelines is not to wait for the disease to occur but to effectively prevent it from occurring in the first place,” he said. “We must expand our outreach in affected communities to spread knowledge on protection of individuals and families against malaria and fight mosquitoes at the source,” added the CAS.

Meanwhile, the country is set to distribute a total of 15.7 million bed nets to 27 malaria prone counties starting from April 30, 2021.

The nets worth Sh8 billion will benefit an estimated 25 million Kenyans in the 27 regions with a high malaria burden.

Dr Rashid Aman said the nets would benefit an estimated 25 million Kenyans.

“My ministry is from today launching a campaign to distribute 15.7m insecticide treated nets (ITNs). It is an 8 billion shilling campaign targeted to benefit 25 million Kenyans,” said Dr Aman.

According to Dr Willis Akhwale, who is the senior advisor at the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, the campaign was a continuation of the country’s malaria control program that also includes indoor residual spraying (IRS) and the identification and spraying of moquito larvae breeding sites.

Dr Akhwale said the disease had exacted a heavy toll in Africa, where 90 percent of global deaths associated with malaria occur.

According to World Health Organization data, at least 400,000 people died of malaria in Africa in 2019.

“Efforts to combat malaria in Africa have been improved with the formation of AMLA, as well as the drafting of the framework to end HIV, TB and malaria by 2030. This includes the setting of clear targets to reduce the malaria burden by 40 percent in 2020, and also eliminate the disease from African soil by 2030,” said Dr Akhwale.

He noted that the continent had experienced a plateau over the last five years in the fight against malaria.

“Since 2015, we have seen a plateau in malaria prevalence and mortality, with the number of cases not similar to what was reported before that year, and the malaria related deaths still not coming down after that,” he said.

The medic and infectious disease expert said the continent had come up with a four point plan to speed up malaria elimination programs through a combination of spraying, bed net use, timely treatment and more comprehensive data collection.

“We are currently implementing digitization of member states’ malaria data to give us a real time picture of what is going on. In Africa, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo bear half of the malaria burden, and we are working with these countries to assist in efforts to bring the prevalence down,” he said.

“In Burkina Faso, we are using the method of preventive prophylaxis which is the treatment of the popultion before the malaria season arrives in order to reduce incidences of malaria cases and hospitalizations,” added Dr Akhwale.  

He said the alliance had set up a database for comprehensive malaria data management.

“We have also set up a digital hub where countries have a digital scorecard to document their progress in combating the disease. Kenya has availed its malaria data on the portal,” he said.

Previous articleHope as malaria jab passes preliminary trials
Next articleMP Momanyi responds to Governor Nyaribo


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.