9 June 2012

Rwanda: New Anti-Malaria Strategy Launched

Photo: ExxonMobil
Mobile community health workers at the Rukara Health Facility in Rwanda.

The Ministry of Health has warned that the current strategies used for prevention and fight against malaria might end up not helping if the communities are not involved in the fight.

The remarks were made by the officials from the Ministry at the launch of a five year Integrated Vector Management Plan (IVM) 2012 /2017 this yesterday in Kigali.

Dr John Githure, the Advisor on Malaria related issues in the Ministry of Health and USAID contractor, says mosquitoes have become resistant to pyrethrum drugs used for the indoor residue spray.

"The mosquitoes have now resorted to biting humans during day and hanging out in the night and they continue to survive," said Githure.

The team of health officials now wants the communities to be mobilized through the month community services the Muganda on the importance of environment management, especially on water bodies, because they are the major habitats for the mosquitoes.

"Although the Ministry of Health has been custodian to vector control program, there is need for collaboration with other ministries, like Ministry of Agriculture, to sensitize farmers" said Dr Githure.

He added that there had also been lack of collaboration even among the departments in the ministry of health.

The strategic plan will not only deal with malaria but also other vector born diseases like yellow fever, trypanasomiasis or sleeping sickness, among others.

Meanwhile, the ministry is also worried of the cross- border infection that is said to be on the increase, and has announced plans to mobilize their counterparts in neighbouring countries to adopt the same measure of vector control.

The official says although there has been a decline in the prevalence of malaria in various parts of the country, border districts still register many cases of malaria due to cross border movement.

The Head of Malaria and Other Parasitic Diseases Division at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Dr Corine Karema, says the ministry is targeting a five percent reduction of infection from the current 15 percent.

She also allayed fears that there could be fake drugs on the market following recent reports. A recent study carried out by the Fogarty International Centre at the US National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, stated that more than a third of malaria drugs analysed by scientists in Africa were below standard.

"All the drugs that are being used in the treating malaria in this country are hundred per cent genuine," said Karema.

In Rwanda, the recent scaling up of interventions has made significant reductions in morbidity by 87 percent from 1,669,614 malaria cases in 2005 to 212,200 cases in 2011 and reduced mortality by 76 percen,t from 1,582 deaths in 2005 to 380 death in 2011, largely attributed to the increased coverage and use of long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs).

According to the 2010 DHS results, "82 percent of the population have at least one LLIN, and 72 percent of pregnant women and 70 percent of children under-five years were using bed nets."

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