• The epidemic threshold Kisii and Nandi is 20 per cent, but the measured risk for March and April is zero, Dr Gikungu said.
• Epidemics in this zone are generically predictable since they follow the seasonality of the rainfall.
The risk of a malaria outbreak is low in Western Kenya and Rift Valley highlands next month, the weatherman has said.
Dr David Gikungu said based on the weather in January and February, the expected conditions in March and April could not sustain an outbreak in April.
He assessed Kisii, Kakamega and the Nandi highlands, which are favourable for transmission.
However the risk for Kakamega remains high at 18 per cent, but still below the 30 per cent epidemic threshold level.
The epidemic threshold Kisii and Nandi is 20 per cent, but the measured risk for March and April is zero, Dr Gikungu said.
“The model outputs for the malaria epidemic early prediction system for the Western highlands of Kenya indicate low risk of malaria outbreak in all the three areas in the months of March and April, 2023,” he said.
Epidemics in this zone are generically predictable since they follow the seasonality of the rainfall.
According to the Ministry of Health, the whole population is vulnerable, and case fatality rates due to malaria during an epidemic can rise to 10 times greater than what is experienced in regions where malaria is stable.
The ministry is currently vaccinating against malaria in these areas.
At least 400,000 children in 26 subcounties have received at least one dose of the malaria vaccine since its official rollout in 2019, MoH says.
RTSS was introduced in Kenya in 2019 in 26 subcounties in Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga and Kakamega counties.
Since then, Kenya has administered more than one million doses of the four-dose malaria vaccine to children across eight counties.
Children under five years qualify for the vaccine and will get four doses from six months of age to the last dose at 24 months.
“Over the past three years, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the number of malaria cases and hospitalisations from malaria in areas where the vaccine has been administered,” Health CS Susan Wafula said two weeks ago.
“We are excited to offer this additional malaria tool to more of our children,” she added.
To reach more children with the vaccine, the Ministry of Health is scaling up malaria vaccination in an additional 25 subcounties within the eight lake-endemic counties.
Since the malaria vaccine was introduced in Kenya in 2019, the areas where it is available have witnessed a substantial drop in children being hospitalised and a reduction in child deaths.
A child gets four malaria vaccine doses. In Kenya, the first dose is given at six months of age, and the fourth dose at two years.
The vaccine has been well accepted in communities, with demand remaining high even when additional visits to clinics by caregivers and children are required.
The malaria vaccine expansion follows the Kenya National Immunistion Technical Advisory Group (Kenitag) recommendation for expansion within Kenya’s lake-endemic region.
Kenya is one of three countries alongside Ghana and Malawi where the RTSS malaria vaccine is already in use, following the 2019 start of pilot or phased introduction in parts of the country.
When the malaria vaccine was launched in Homa Bay in 2019, the lake-endemic malaria region had a prevalence of 27 per cent, which has now dropped to 19 per cent, according to data from the Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey.