Nyagatare — The Ministry of Health on Tuesday launched mass distribution of long lasting mosquito nets in Rurenge village, Rukomo sector in Nyagatare district, one of the high malaria transmission areas.
The event was presided over by the Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, who encouraged the public to exercise maximum co-operation with the government in the effort to eliminate malaria in the country.
In her address, the minister said although malaria was a deadly killer, it could be defeated if the public co-operated and supported government's efforts to fight it.
She said elimination of malaria by 2017 would allow the government to focus its efforts in fighting other diseases.
"We want zero malaria cases in our country by 2017. It is our duty as Rwandans to fight malaria. People must use mosquito nets effectively," she said.
She further informed the gathering that the ministry will continue to look at all the possible measures to combat malaria.
"After distributing nets in all malaria prone areas, we expect to see a drop in malaria cases as an indication that people are using these nets and that the whole exercise is bearing fruits."
According to Dr Corine Karema, the head of Division, Malaria and Other Parasitic Diseases at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), the two-day campaign would see at least 2,300 children under the age of five years, receive mosquito nets.
She said malaria affected mainly children under five years and pregnant women, adding that Eastern Province had the highest cases of malaria.
"Eastern Province has 70 per cent of malaria cases while Nyagatare is the most affected district with 50 per cent. This explains why we launched the campaign here," she said.
It emerged some residents were going to use the mosquito nets for the first time in their lives.
"I can't express my happiness enough, I have never slept under a mosquito net. The government has done great to protect my children from malaria," said a jovial Harriettee Dusingizimana.
Rwanda is among nine countries that were this week recognised for their significant contribution in the fight against malaria.
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Forum on Monday awarded Rwanda with two anti-Malaria awards in the categories of 'Policy' and 'Impact and Implementation.'
The Demographic Health Survey (DHS), conducted in 2010, indicates that malaria prevalence 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.
The rate of malaria cases treated after laboratory confirmation was 96 per cent in 2011.