1 December 2017

Tanzania: Kagera Set to Reduce Malaria Prevalence

CONCERTED efforts are needed to ensure that malaria is completely eliminated. Residents in Kagera Region should cooperate fully in the Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) exercise.

Phase Two of Indoor Spraying (IRS) programme will cover three districts namely Misenyi, Bukoba Rural and Ngara. A study conducted during 2015/16 revealed that the regional malaria prevalence rate stood at 41 per cent.

During Phase One a total of 68,346 households in 109 villages in Muleba District were sprayed. A total of 446,749 households in Kagera Region have been short listed to get Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) in an effort to combat the spread of malaria.

The Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Major Gen (rtd) Salum Kijuu appealed to people to use Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN), in effort to control spread of malaria. The government was keen to ensure that the disease was totally eradicated by 2020 citing concerted efforts they mounted in the region including Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) and use of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) and polio jabs to infants.

There are few people who objected to house spraying. Indoor spraying can control malaria by 90 per cent and eliminate malaria that is still a leading killer disease. Also, some people did not care to check their health status from time to time while those who do so go to hospital late.

Councils should enforce existing By-laws that makes it mandatory for people to keep trenches open to allow water to flee smoothly to avoid looming floods. The number of dispensaries increased from 206 during 2005 to 239 by 2010, health centres increased from 21 (2005) to 28 (2010) while the number of hospitals also increased from 13 during 2005 to 15 by 2010.

The infant mortality rate (IMR) for children aged below five years also dropped from 110 per 1,000 children during 2005 to five per 1,000 children during 2010. The mortality rate for children aged above five years improved from 182 per 1,000 children (2005) to 28 per 1,000 children (2010).

The government is keen to ensure that more lives were saved through improved health delivery and construction of health facilities, including dispensaries in rural areas where most Tanzanians lived, he said.

The Regional Co-ordinator for ABT Associates who are implementing partners, Dr Bethuel Magoma, revealed that a total of 184,117 households in the three districts would be covered. The exercise kicked off last week and will continue until December 20, this year.

The Kagera Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Thomas Rutachunzibwa told the " Daily News" that a total of 133,732 Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) were distributed to Standard One pupils in 952 primary schools.

This is a continuous exercise. We shall be distributing more ITN nets to other pupils. Records indicate that 29 villages in Kagera Region that were affected by the outbreak of malaria in 2013 were not covered under the Malaria Indoor Spraying Programme.

The villages include Kamishango, Kasharunga, Ikondo, Kihwera, Itongo, Kyanshenge, Ruteme, Kibanga, Kisana and Buyaga. Others are Kabirizi, Muzinga, Mushabago, Kasindaga, Kabutaigi, Kihumulo, Buhuma, Ruija, Kishoju, Mubunda, Kishanda, Rushwa, Ihanga, Kagasha, Buhangaza, Kabulala, Biirabo and Mulela.

Records also indicated that on the first day of the outbreak on May 25, 2013 about 16 deaths were recorded at Rubya District Designated Hospital (DDH), mainly because most of the infants arrived at the hospital very late.

About 17,506 patients were admitted to various health institutions in Kagera Region during 2010 due to Malaria, resulting in 242 deaths. Out of the number, 80 per cent were children under five and pregnant women.

302 children aged under five years out of 17,725 children who were admitted to various hospitals in Kagera Region during 2010, died due to Malaria. Malaria is a leading cause of death for children aged under five years and pregnant women as well as a major cause of maternal mortality.

Joint efforts were needed to reduce malaria by employing an integrated approach including prevention through mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying, prevention of malaria in pregnancy, prompt diagnosis and correct treatment, strengthened malaria surveillance, improved human resources and promotion of positive behaviors for malaria prevention.

Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases, particularly in Africa. Malaria is still a leading killer disease claiming almost 700,000 lives in Africa annually. Out of the number, 595,000 of them were young children.

Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is the annual number of female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes).

The MMR includes deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, for a specified year. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 calls for the reduction of maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.

It has been a challenge to assess the extent of progress due to the lack of reliable and accurate maternal mortality data- particularly in developing-country settings where maternal mortality is high. Better health of a population is central to the development of a nation since a healthy population lives longer and is more productive and contributing more to a nation's economy.

Effective public health system from the grassroots level are important in providing care for the sick and putting in place measures that promote preventive services of diseases. Malaria cost African governments over 12 billion us dollars each year while in every minute a child dies due to malaria.

Women and children carry a heavy disease burden mostly from preventable diseases. The media can play a crucial role in altering social behavior and perpetuating sex and gender stereo types.

People should get right information on how to avoid contracting malaria including use of long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs), how to access treatment, importance of Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) and use of Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT). Rural women, in particular, have continued to suffer debilitating poverty occasioned by retrogressive cultural practices and the politics of marginalization.

The only source of financial freedom for rural women is productive agricultural enterprises, which unfortunately have not been strengthened enough to erase the circle of poverty. This is despite the fact that rural women contribute immensely to agriculture and rural enterprises, fuelling local and global economies.

They are active players to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Yet, every day around the world, rural women and girls face insurmountable constraints from the prevailing social, economic and political order.

Approximately 830 women in most developing nations die from preventable causes during pregnancy or childbirth every day.


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