Rwanda's Fight Against Malaria Gets U.S.$53 Million Boost

The government has received a $53m grant from the Global Fund as a contribution towards a whopping Rwf295bn ($280 million) required in malaria prevention and treatment efforts running between 2020 and 2024, The New Times has learnt.

The Global Fund is a global partnership designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as epidemics in more than 100 countries.

As of February 2019, the Global Fund had invested about US$1.4 billion in Rwanda since 2003, and was running US$210m in active grants.

However, Rwanda is not only a beneficiary but it is also a donor, having pledged $3.5m to the Fund's Sixth Replenishment between 2011 and 2022.

By September last year, the government had managed to obtain funding commitment of about $206.8m (equivalent to 74 per cent) but was sourcing funds to a tune of $73m to roll out a plan that is aimed at momentum towards eliminating malaria.

No details are available of the total amount that has so far been received from the commitments.

About the funds

In an exclusive interview, the Head of the Malaria and other Parasitic Infections Unit at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Dr Aimable Mbituyumuremyi, said that with effect from this month, the Global Fund package will be broken down and used over the next three years to cover specific areas.

Mbituyumuremyi explained that the funds will be impactful and will continue to play a significant role in reducing the number of malaria deaths and infections.

"The Global Fund money will mainly go to indoor residual spraying in six districts for the next three years, procurement of treated mosquito nets and procurement of malaria commodities which include testing kits, malaria drugs, and supporting community health workers," he said.

In this phase though, the component of community health workers has been tweaked not only to include comprehensive social behavioural change communication based at community level as the main focus but also support in terms of incentives.

Besides the Global Fund, Rwanda also received funding from the US through the Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI) to the tune of around $18m.

This money will particularly go to spraying in three districts, procurement of mosquito nets and malaria drugs.

Indoor spraying a success

Meanwhile, Mbituyumuremyi said that the ongoing Covid-19 crisis did not deter the Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) exercise, calling its recent completion in June a success.

Indoor Residual Spraying involves the application of a residual insecticide to internal walls and ceilings of housing structures where malaria vectors may come into contact with the insecticide.

The exercise, which falls between July and June every fiscal year is done in different rounds.

The plan involves spraying twelve districts and a few sectors in Rusizi district. They include all the seven districts in the Eastern Province, five districts in Southern Province which are Kamonyi, Ruhango, Nyanza, Huye, Gisagara and some areas in Rusizi District.

The exercise is also extended to the districts of Nyagatare, Kirehe, Ngoma, Bugesera, Gatsibo, Rwamagana and Kayonza.

Why 12 districts

Mbituyumuremyi said that the 12 districts are chosen based on the malaria burden.

"These are the most affected districts. We are spraying in the same exact districts that we sprayed even in 2019/2020 because it is better to build on what we have done and sustain the momentum," he said.

However, he said that the limitations in funding mean that three other districts that should be on the list are not benefitting from the exercise.

"On average, to be able to do indoor spraying in one district, we need about $3m per year. This means that with about Rwf2.5bn, we can spray one district. The entire year costs about $36m," he explained.

The Ministry of Health says that the national malaria incidence reduced from 401 cases per 1,000-person in 2017-2018 fiscal year to 200 cases per 1,000-person in 2019-2020.

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