The New Times (Kigali)

21 March 2011

Rwanda: Malaria Decreases By 70 Percent

Kigali — Rwanda is on track to enter the malaria pre-elimination phase.

According to a Rwanda malaria performance program review, by 10 external experts, the country has managed to bring down the disease by 70 percent.

The period studied was between 2001and 2010.

The review findings indicate that there was a 61 percent decline in deaths caused by malaria within the same period.

The report also indicates an improvement in malaria case management as it rose from 77.4 percent in 2006 to 85.7 percent by December 2010.

According to the report, there was also an increase in the percentage of children - under five years - with malaria who received treatment within 24 hours, from 62 percent in 2008 to 89 percent in 2010, whereas among pregnant women, it rose from 60 percent to 89.2 percent in 2010.

The acting Director General of TRAC Plus, Dr. Corine Karema, said the country intends to reduce Malaria infection by 90 percent by 2012.

"In a quick survey we conducted, the household ownership of mosquito nets is now 98,99 %, but the usage of them is still low, people still have wrong perception about them," said Karema, adding that more campaigns will be conducted to influence behavior change in communities.

Over six million mosquito nets have been distributed since 2009 in which each household has at least three mosquito nets.

However, Dr Karema called on stakeholders for more financial support to meet their malaria pre-elimination goals

"There has been declining gap in funding malaria control, from 2009-2011; funding gap of 55% whereas from 2012 to 2013 there is gap of 70%," Karema said.

After presenting the review findings, representatives of the stakeholders, jointly signed a statement committing to work together to follow up on the recommendations and support activities aimed at achieving a malaria free Rwanda.

The stake holders included, the Mission Director of USAID, the WHO Represenative, the RDO Executive Secretary, the Director of SPH, Dr Karema and the Permament Secreatry, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, on behalf of the Ministry of Health

Dr. Binagwaho, attributed the improvement in the fight against malaria to the government's leadership and evidence-based policies on health sector.

"These tremendous trends couldn't have been achieved without the particular emphasis of the government, especially our President," she said.

Binagwaho added that there is still a challenge of cross-boarder threats, and there is need to harmonise malaria control interventions in the region.

"We are going to go for a regional approach so that there is integration of the same interventions," she noted.

The country Director of USAID, Dennis Weller, urged the health sector to continue being more vigilant on malaria control surveillance.

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