New study shows decline in malaria deaths, infections

Thursday, October 28th, 2021 00:00 |
Malaria spreading mosquito. Photo/Courtesy

Malaria deaths and infections have reduced steadily over the period between 2015 and 2016.

The Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey 2020 says cases have dropped from eight per cent in 2015 to six in 2020. Survey was conducted by the Division of National Malaria Programme and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

It further shows an increase in the uptake of three or more doses of Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPTp), known as Fansidar tablets for pregnant women in the Lake and Coastal regions to contain infections.

In the Lake region for instance, survey conducted in November and December 2020, showed that the uptake of IPTp among pregnant women rose to 49 per cent in 2020 from 35 per cent in 2015.

Similarly, in the Coast region, there was a notable increase from 46 per cent in 2019 to 49 per cent last year. 

Speaking yesterday at the Windsor Golf Club in Kiambu county, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi attributed the progress to sustained interventions by the ministry and its partners.

National strategy

“This two per cent drop in national malaria prevalence can be credited to continued surveillance and epidemic preparedness efforts mounted by the national malaria programme team, county malaria teams and other partners,” said Mwangangi.

Some of the interventions include diagnosis and management of cases, distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets and IPTp in malaria-prone regions.

As the country seeks to have at least 80 per cent of all pregnant women living in malaria prevalent areas receive at least three doses of IPTp and sustain adherence to policy guidance in non-endemic areas, experts are arguing that efforts towards realising this target must be strengthened and sustained.

The Malaria No More, Africa Director Lilies Ng’ang’a said KMIS data provides the country with an opportunity to review the national strategy for combating malaria, and resultantly scaling up intervention efforts.

“Data will enable us identify gaps as well as afford us the opportunity to contribute our individual and collective effort to shift the paradigm from malaria control to elimination,” she said.

She added that the declining national malaria prevalence rate is an indication that combined efforts are working. 

“This is exciting and shows that the country’s 2030 goal to see the road towards elimination of malaria is forming and taking shape,” she observed.

Kenya aims to eliminate malaria entirely by 2030. 

US Agency for International Development Health Office Director  John Kuehnle said 19 counties have completely controlled malaria, and called on the government and devolved units to focus on the remaining regions.

According to KMIS, it is, however, not very good news when it comes to ownership of the insecticide-treated net (ITN).

Survey indicates that other key malaria indicators such as ownership and use of ITNs have seen a downward trend from the previous survey conducted in 2015 KMIS.

Dr George Githuka, the Head of Division of National Malaria Programme noted that the stalled progress in some of malaria prevention interventions have necessitated the need for intensified awareness and behavior campaigns.

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