Kenya’s war on malaria far from being won

Wednesday November 29 2017

A child is tested for Malaria at Kombewa

A child is tested for Malaria at Kombewa grounds, Kisumu. WHO has stated that there were 5 million more malaria cases in 2016 than in 2015. fFILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NYABOGA KIAGE
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Kenya is among 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that accounted for 80 per cent of all malaria cases in the world in 2016.

This is according to the World Malaria Report 2017 by the WHO which stated that there were 5 million more malaria cases in 2016 than in 2015.

The study, which is conducted annually, monitors the fight against the disease that puts half of the world’s population at risk.

At 27 per cent, Nigeria was ranked as the country that recorded the highest number of malaria cases.

NIGERIA

Democratic Republic of Congo and India had 10 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.

The WHO said that there were 216 million reported malaria cases where 445,000 died of the disease that is transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito.

Out of those deaths, 407,000 (91 per cent) were recorded in Africa which is less than 409,000 deaths in 2015.

Africa recorded the highest mortality rate in 2010 when 538,000 people died of malaria.

Nigeria accounted for the highest proportion of mortality cases globally at 30 per cent.

DRC contributed 14 per cent of the deaths and was ranked second.

Burkina Faso and India were third and they recorded seven per cent of the registered deaths.

Kenya recorded only four per cent of the deaths.

TARGETS

“Plasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent malaria parasite in Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 99 per cent of estimated malaria cases in 2016. Outside of Africa, P. vivax is the predominant parasite in the WHO region of the Americas, representing 64 per cent of malaria cases, and is above 30 per cent in the WHO South East Asia and 40 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean regions,” said the report.

A statement by the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom, stated that chances of missing the global malaria targets for 2020 and beyond were high.

“In recent years, we have made major gains in the fight against malaria. We are now at a turning point. Without urgent action, we risk going backwards and missing the global malaria targets for 2020 and beyond,” said Dr Adhanom.

The National Malaria Strategy 2009- 2017 had promised that Kenya would be malaria free by the end of this year, but that now seems far-fetched.

According to the report, the major reason the disease was spreading highly was due to insufficient funding at both domestic and international levels.

The lack of funds has contributed to major gaps in coverage of insecticides- treated nets and medicine.

The report said that between 2014 and 2016, 582 million insecticide- treated mosquito nets had been distributed globally.

This year’s report comes just a year after WHO launched three time-bond milestones aimed at dealing with the disease.