Let us ramp up fight against killer malaria
Yesterday the world marked Malaria Day, the second in the Covid pandemic period. As such it is not strange that efforts to end one of the world’s killer diseases took a back seat to deal with the emergency that was Covid-19.
Things are not so different in the country, but this means there will be a setback in achieving the targets of ending the disease in 2030.
Fortunately, we were one of three countries besides Malawi and Ghana to be selected as pilot of the RTS,S vaccine since 2019, and the World Health Organisation has shown a positive outlook in the programme.
So far, according to the Ministry of Health, 450,000 doses of the vaccine will have been administered, with more than 180,000 children receiving the first dose by the end of April 2021.
We have also put in place the different local and community interventions including mosquito nets, malaria medicine, insecticides and rapid test kits.
The intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy has also gone a long way to protect mothers and their babies from the impact of malaria.
All these efforts, as per the Health ministry has seen reduction of out-patient attendance from 30 per cent to 19 per cent and in-patients from 20 per cent to 15 per cent between 2016 and 2020.
It has also seen decreased confirmed malaria cases from 113 in 2016 to 86 in 2020.
However, we should not sit pretty with the positive picture painted. Covid-19 has been a burden on healthcare systems, and has caused people to shy away from receiving necessary treatment out of fear of infection with the coronavirus.
As such cases of malaria have been under-reported or have been left to get to severe cases or even death.
It is, therefore, important that all malaria programmes must be reinstated and even ramped up so that we can get rid of the disease that kills more than 12,000 people in the country.
Importantly, the information about vaccination in pilot counties should be spread effectively so that children under the age of five, one of the most vulnerable groups, can benefit from life-saving intervention.
With the formation of the End Malaria Council early this year, Kenyans will be looking forward to seeing the strategies the council and its partners will establish, to reduce the burden of treatment when malaria rears its ugly head.