29 January 2013

Rwanda: Why Rwanda Won Anti-Malaria Awards

Photo: Tami Hultman/AllAfrica
Child receiving treatment for malaria (file photo).

Rwanda is among nine countries that have been recognised for their significant contribution in the fight against malaria.

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday recognised Rwanda in two categories of 'Policy' and 'Impact and Implementation'.

The nine countries were awarded based upon the data in the ALMA Scorecard for accountability and action and country quarterly reports.

In the Policy category, recipients of the awards are the leaders of countries that have increased progress in performance as observed for removal of tariffs on anti malarial commodities, ban status of oral artemisinin-based monotherapy and community case management of malaria and pneumonia

In the Impact and Implementation category, recipients of the awards are the leaders of countries that have made the best performance in operational long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) coverage, reduction in malaria mortality and tracer indicators for maternal and child health

Dr Corine Karema, the head of Division, Malaria and Other Parasitic Diseases at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), attributed the awards to efforts that Rwanda has sustained right from the grassroot leaders to the national level in the fight against malaria. She said malaria decline was significant from time to time.

The Demographic Health Survey (DHS) conducted in 2010, indicates that malaria prevalence has decreased from 2.6 in 2008 to 1.4 in 2010 in children Under five and from 1.4 in 2008 to 0.7 in 2010 in pregnant women.

Karema also said the award of implementation was because of free distribution of long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to all households in mass campaigns and to all U5 children upon completion of vaccination and to pregnant women.

The DHS report shows that 83 per cent of households nationwide own at least one mosquito net and 82 per cent own at least one insecticide-treated net (ITN). Also 71 per cent of children below the age of five slept under a mosquito net and 73 per cent of pregnant women, aged 15-49, slept under a mosquito net the night before the survey.

Karema noted that more than two million LLINs were distributed after the 2010 DHS data collection.

Apart from the mosquito nets distribution, malaria treatment was strengthened and 41,775 community healthy workers were trained on how to test and treat malaria.

As a result, 93 per cent of children under five years were treated at the community level within 24 hours for symptom onset.

The rate of malaria cases treated after laboratory confirmation was 96 per cent in 2011.

Other recipients of the 2013 ALMA Award for Excellence in Impact and Implementation are Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Swaziland, and Zambia, while the Recipients of the 2013 in Policy are: Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda.

According to Dr Viateur Karinda, the director of Remera Rukoma Hospital, Kamonyi District Rwanda, merits the awards as it has significantly reduced the rate of malaria prevalence.

"There is a strong political will to fight malaria; community health workers have been trained and they provide basic treatment. Also, the free distribution of long lasting mosquito nets has helped slow the spread of malaria," said Karinda.

As part of the fight against malaria, RBC yesterday launched another programme to distribute mosquito nets countrywide.

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