OPINION: Inclusive health care systems towards zero malaria

By Evelyn Odhiambo

On 25th April 2021, the world marked World Malaria Day 2021 under the theme: “Zero Malaria-Drawing the line against Malaria.” As many mark this important day towards ending deaths from Malaria, WHO Africa 2020 reported 384,000 preventable malaria deaths.

In 2019, the Africa region accounted for 94% of 229 million malaria cases and 409,000 deaths reported globally. Although Malaria incidences have gradually decreased since 2000, only Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, The Gambia, South Africa and Ethiopia has achieved the 2020 milestone in reducing malaria incidences by 40%.

36 of 44 malaria-endemic countries in the African region are yet to achieve the milestone causing a suffer in the health and development sector with a reduction of 1.3 % of Africa’s economic growth due to the spread of malaria.

According to CDC, in Kenya, it’s estimated that 3.5 million new cases and 10,700 deaths each year especially from people living in the Western part of the country are a result of a high risk of Malaria. As it remains to be a major public health problem accounting for 16% of outpatient consultations in the Country.

Approximately 70 % of Kenya’s population are at risk of Malaria with 14 million people in endemic areas and 17 million in malaria seasonal and epidemic areas. Malaria transmission and infection risks are high in these areas due to altitude, rainfall patterns, and temperature that have proven over the years to be malaria prevalent by seasons and across geographical regions.

As Kenya continues to record up to four million cases of malaria with a mortality rate of 5.1% of patients reported to have been admitted by severe malaria, it’s critical that our health care systems fully cater for the provision of malaria medication. The ministry of health should roll out community-based education on management of stagnant waters, provide communities high-risk regions with mosquito nets (Insecticide-treated bed nets) and encourage indoor residual spraying.

As per the WHO on 22nd April 2021, “Achieving the global target on reducing 90% malaria cases and deaths by 2030, needs governments to invest in expanding access to malaria interventions for groups that have been left behind, such as children and pregnant women. Smart deployment is also important to protect the effectiveness of malaria tools, along with innovations to proactively address anticipated challenges.”

Ms. Evelyn Odhiambo is the Youth Coordinator Reproductive Health Network Kenya

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