BY 80% IN TWO YEARS

Amref, GSK partner to reduce malaria, TB deaths

WHO has warned that disruption to malaria diagnosis and treatment could lead to thousands of additional deaths in Africa.

In Summary

• The programme aims to reduce the burden of the two diseases in the country, reverse any setbacks caused by Covid-19

• The goal of the Kenyan national malaria strategy is to reduce malaria incidence and deaths by at least 75 per cent of the 2016 levels by 2023.

TB patients in a Mombasa hospital
TB patients in a Mombasa hospital
Image: FILE

GlaxoSmithKline has partnered with Amref Health Africa to reduce malaria and tuberculosis deaths in Kenya by 80 per cent in the next two years.

The objective is also to strengthen the country’s healthcare system that has been shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The programme aims to reduce the burden of the two diseases, reverse any setbacks caused by Covid-19, and accelerate the gains in tackling the ailments.

“The challenge is that these two are preventable diseases and therefore the loss of life is unacceptable,” Amref Health Africa CEO Dr Githinji Gitahi said.

The goal of the Kenyan national malaria strategy is to reduce malaria incidence and deaths by at least 75 per cent of the 2016 levels by 2023.

Although 90 per cent of life-saving malaria prevention campaigns were delivered as planned in 2020, the World Health Organization has warned that disruption to malaria diagnosis and treatment could lead to thousands of additional deaths across Africa. 

Before the pandemic, half of the world’s population were already living with the threat of malaria and, despite promising progress since the beginning of the millennium, the parasite is fighting back.

Malaria transmission is almost exclusively due to P. falciparum and transmission is highly seasonal in coastal and highland areas of Kenya.

“Covid-19 is reliant on resilient, equitable health systems. Whenever we have seen that we don’t have resilient, equitable health systems, the impacts of health emergencies like Covid-19 become even more severe,” he said.

“We know that when we work on TB and malaria not as a vertical intervention, but horizontal interventions where we build community health systems and policy intervention we are building systems that last beyond these two interventions.”

At least 60 per cent of the population had access to indoor residual spraying, an insecticide-treated mosquito net or long-lasting insecticidal net in 2019, the report shows.

Malaria is a leading killer of children younger than five years in Kenya and claims the life of one child every two minutes.

“To end malaria for those still at risk, it is important to continuously innovate our approaches to stay ahead of the ever-evolving parasite,” Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said.

TB on the other hand is the fifth leading cause of death in Kenya and Kenya is ranked among the world’s 30 nation with a high burden of the disease that together account for more than 80 per cent of the world’s TB cases.

Data from WHO shows that globally 409,000 people died in 2019 as a result of malaria, 94 per cent of those deaths in Africa.

Meanwhile, more than 25 per cent of global TB deaths occur in the region.