Malaria burden in Kenya drops by two percent on dose uptake


The burden of malaria has dropped from eight per cent to six per cent in the last six years, according to the Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey (KMIS) 2020.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi attributed the drop to sustained interventions including diagnosis, management, distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets, and intermittent preventive treatment in malaria by the Ministry of Health and its partners.

Dr Mwangangi added that “Kenya aims to have at least 80 per cent of all pregnant women living in endemic zones receiving at least three doses of intermitted preventive treatment.”

The survey is conducted every five years to provide data on malaria prevention and case management, prevalence, and anemia among children aged six months to 14 years. It comes a few weeks after the approval of the RTS,S malaria vaccine by the World Health Organisation.

Dr George Githuka, head of the Division of National Malaria Programme (DNMP), noted that the Covid-19 pandemic stalled progress in some malaria prevention interventions.

According to The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.5 million new clinical cases and 10,700 deaths are reported annually with the Lake region, Western, Coast, and the highlands at a higher risk of malaria case management.

The survey by DNMP and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, however, noted an increased uptake of three or more doses of preventive treatment in the endemic areas: the Lake region recorded a 49 per cent uptake, a 14 per cent increase from 2015, while the coastal region also had a 49 per cent uptake, a three per cent increase from the same period.

CDC also has also revealed that the standard treatment of malaria is Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs), which are usually not recommended in the first trimester of pregnancy due to lack of safety data.

The survey also revealed that malaria is more prevalent in rural areas at seven percent compared to three percent in urban areas.

Washington Omwomo,  Acting Deputy Health Office Director USAID Kenya, said the country's priorities are to end malaria in nine years through a concerted effort involving the youth as an “army of malaria advocates” besides utilizing innovations like drone technology in malaria prevention, launch locally produced malaria rapid diagnostics test kits through funding local manufacturing.

Dr Juliet Nabyonga-Orem, the WHO in charge of health policies, strategies, and governance in Kenya, lauded the strides made considering malaria is a global problem that saw 200 million cases and 400, 000 deaths in 2017 alone with 94 percent of them in Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya included. 

This year’s survey is the fourth since 2007 and involved a nationally representative sample of 6,771 women from 7,952 households.

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