Kenya: Health Ministry Embarks on Malaria Eradication in Four Low Risk Counties

(File photo).
26 October 2021

Nairobi — The Ministry of Health has mapped four counties as the initial regions targetted in malaria campaign.

The ministry through Division of National Malaria Program (DNMP) has already put in place structures in the selected counties with the county government required to enforce the measures in place.

The head of the malaria program Dr.George Githuka said the four counties have over years reported low incidences which makes them an easy target to eradicate Malaria.

"Majority of the cases we see they are what we call imported cases of people who have travelled where Malaria transmission is happening at a high rate like the lake regions or the coastal regions," said Githuka.

Githuka noted that the 100 percent elimination of Malaria cases in the low-risk areas require strong surveillance structures as well as contact tracing.

The Ministry of Health has said it is working towards having in place robust structures by 2023 with close collaboration with county governments for the eradication program to be a success.

"When we start with these four counties, we shall be improving with more and more counties as we scale up our intervention activities so as to ensure that we eliminate Malaria by the year 2030," he said.

Malaria is one of the world's most deadly disease. In Kenya, the disease is the main cause of death among children under the age of five years.

The government has been working on several intervention measures to reduce the mortality rates in the country.

The latest intervention that the government the calling for the enhanced uptake of the newly rolled out RTS, S/AS01 vaccine to bolster efforts to combat malaria among children.

The Division of National Malaria Program said the Kenya National Immunization Technical Advisory Group is working on measures to scale up the newly launched Malaria Vaccine in high burden counties.

"Kenya National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group will advise the government on how to scale up the vaccine beyond where it was being piloted especially to the high burden counties. We need to look into the number of the vaccines required, the capacity of health workers to administer the vaccine as well as sensitize the communities on the vaccine," Githuka noted.

The Kenyan government was one of three African countries to pilot the world's first malaria vaccine, called RTS,S, in 2019.

The main high-risk counties where the programme was being implemented are Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga, and Kakamega.

The RTS,S vaccine covers children from six months upwards and will be used in conjunction with other interventions such as the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor pesticide spraying, and timely access to malaria diagnosis and treatment.

The Government targets to reduce malaria cases and deaths in Kenya by 75 per cent by 2023 as envisioned in the Kenya Malaria Strategy. So far, Kenya has managed to reduce the number of malaria cases seen in hospitals from an annual average of six million to 4.6 million.

The incidence of malaria has reduced from 121 per 1,000 population in 2015 to 97 per 1,000 population in 2019. The number of deaths has reduced from an estimated 30,000 to 20,000 annually.

On October 31,2020 , President Kenyatta launched the "Zero Malaria Starts with Me" campaign to catalyse implementation of his four-point anti-malaria agenda. He issued the agenda in his capacity as the Chairman of African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA).

The Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign links local and national action by including all members of society in the fight against malaria.

It sparks grassroots movement by engaging political leaders at all levels, mobilising resources and funding, and empowering communities to take ownership of malaria efforts and hold leaders accountable.

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