1 February 2013

Rwanda: Ministry Looks to Eradicate Malaria

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

A two-day mass mosquito net distribution exercise by the Ministry of Health and the Global Fund ended on Wednesday at Byumba Health Centre in Gicumbi District, with bed nets worth US $10.2 million (about Rwf6.3bn) given out. Over 1.7 million children under five years received the nets.

The mosquito nets were distributed to district officials in 2,300 sites countrywide where they were later distributed to the children.

The Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2010, indicates that malaria prevalence has decreased from 2.6 per cent in 2008 to 1.4 per cent in 2010 in children under five and from 1.4 per cent in 2008 to 0.7 per cent in 2010 in pregnant women.

Speaking at the event, Dr Corine Kalema, the head of Division, Malaria and Other Parasitic Diseases at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), said, mosquito nets use is one of the more effective ways of combating malaria.

"In 2008, malaria was the topmost killer disease in Rwanda, but results have shown that now it is the eighth. Our aim is to eradicate it completely from the list of killer diseases in Rwanda," she said.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, urged residents to embrace the use of the nets to kick out malaria infection among children. She inspected some of the patients' wards and demonstrated the proper way of hanging and adjusting a mosquito net.

Gicumbi, Nyagatare and Bugesera are said to be among the districts with a high transmission rate of malaria in Rwanda. The districts received mosquito nets to be distributed to families other than children.

According to Dr. Kalema, this was to reduce the high levels of malaria transmission in these districts. She explained that the campaign targeted children under five because this age group is the most vulnerable.

"Their white blood cells are not as strong with regard to defending the body as they are for adults," she said.

One mother, Suzanne Umugwaneza, was all smiles after receiving a mosquito net for her daughter.

"I am so pleased that my daughter, Isabella Benita, has received this mosquito net. I will not worry about her getting malaria anymore," said Umugwaneza.

Another beneficiary, Espe Nyirabatunzi, remarked that had it not been for the government, the mosquito net was out of reach for her young ones.

This campaign comes days after the African Leaders Malaria Alliance awarded Rwanda with two anti-Malaria awards in the categories of 'Policy' and 'Impact and Implementation.'

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

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