Kenya: Curb Malaria Threat

A community health worker carries out a rapid diagnostic test for malaria.
7 October 2020
editorial

The national attention may now be riveted on the raging Covid-19 pandemic, but there are also other serious health challenges that must not be ignored. Should the health authorities take their eyes off some of these perennial scourges, the consequences could be more devastating, as the deadly coronavirus, which has been wreaking havoc for more than six months, is not over yet.

Malaria remains a big problem, afflicting large numbers of people. Long considered a rural disease, malaria is increasingly rearing its ugly head in the urban centres as the mosquitoes that carry the disease spread and entrench themselves.

A new study has found that malaria is now ravaging townsfolk, with 126 million Africans at grave risk. In a year, 400,000 Africans, most of them expectant mothers and children, get infected with malaria.

The increasing urbanisation, with the glaring poor water management, is creating the perfect environment for the mosquitoes to breed, and fuel malaria transmission. Taming the new species calls for greater cooperation between countries and a campaign by international agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mid last year, WHO issued an alert to countries in and around the Horn of Africa to monitor and prevent its breeding.

In Kenya, malaria has always been a major killer, claiming more than 10,000 lives a year, according to official statistics. Some 25 out of 44 million Kenyans are at risk of contracting the disease.

Prevention is possible through denying the mosquitoes breeding places by draining pools of stagnant water and creating awareness among the population on the need to protect themselves against bites by mosquitoes.

The provision of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor spraying are also key.

An efficient water management system in towns is a must in the campaign to curb the spread of malaria and prevent deaths. This preventable and curable disease must be tamed.

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