- The campaign that is estimated to cost Sh8 billion, will run to July 31 this year, and targets to benefit at least 25 million Kenyans in the respective regions during that period.
- Already, Cuban doctors have arrived in the country to help in the malaria elimination process
The Health ministry will from Friday begin the distribution of 15.7 million insecticide mosquito treated nets in regions with high malaria burden.
The campaign is estimated to cost Sh8 billion and will run to July 31 this year. It targets at least 25 million Kenyans.
One of the regions to benefit is the lake region, which bears the highest disease burden and includes eight counties of Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Vihiga, Siaya, Busia, Bungoma and Kakamega.
Coast is another malaria-endemic region and consists of Kwale, Taita Taveta, Mombasa, Kilifi and Lamu.
Other counties that are high epidemic-prone areas include Narok, Kisii, Nyamira, Bomet, Kericho, Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and parts of West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo.
Already, Cuban doctors have arrived in the country to help in the malaria elimination process.
This is in relation to a partnership signed between Cuba and Kenya to ensure both countries undertake a two-year project on the use of biological methods to control mosquito vectors.
Cuba is among few countries in the world that have successfully eliminated malaria. The project targets eight counties in the malaria-endemic zone.
“Experts from Cuba will be working with their Kenyan counterparts at both national and county level to map out key breeding sites for spraying using biological methods to kill the mosquito larvae at the breeding sites,” Aman said.
Youths in the respective areas are expected to take part in the project as per the President’s directive that they be involved in malaria eradication programmes.
“These youths will play a critical role in this project because it is labour-intensive in terms of spraying breeding areas of mosquitoes. Some of these areas are permanent water spaces that are there throughout the year, but most of them are water spaces that form after the rains,” Health CAS Rashid Aman said.
“Therefore, the exercise would have to be repeated after every rainy season and there will be a lot of spraying. At some point, we will rope in schoolchildren because they, too, can play a role. They can help by preventing the larvae of the mosquitoes from maturing and becoming disease-transmitting vectors.”
Malaria remains a major public health concern in Kenya. Besides being the leading cause of morbidity and mortality, it is listed among the top 10 causes of outpatient visits countrywide.
The disease burden, however, remains the highest in counties in the Lake region, which accounts for 70 per cent of the 6.5 million cases nationally.
The World Malaria Report 2019 estimated that more than 400,000 people died of malaria globally. Of the deaths, 360,000 (90 per cent) were in Africa.
According to Dr Willis Akhwale, efforts in Africa to eliminate the disease have been improving and the African Leaders Malaria Alliance under the hospices of the African Union used the catalytic framework to end HIV, TB and malaria by the year 2030.
Akhwale is a senior advisor at the African Leaders Malaria Alliance and acts as the secretary to the End Malaria Council inaugurated by the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe in February.
They set targets in which they wanted to see a 40 per cent reduction of the malaria burden in Africa by the year 2020 and the elimination of the disease from the continent by the year 2013.
“There has been good progress until 2015 where we have seen a plateau on the achievement. The number of cases is not coming down as they were coming before 2015. The number of deaths is not coming down as we had started witnessing between 2010 and 2015,” Akhwale said.
The latest report by the ministry shows that prevalence in the lake region has reduced from 27 per cent in 2015 to 19 per cent in 2020, with prevalence in the Coast region dropping from eight to 5.6 per cent over the same period.
-Edited by SKanyara