Hope as latest survey shows malaria prevalence has dropped amid vaccine approval


Malaria is more prevalent in rural areas at seven per cent compared to three per cent in urban areas. [Courtesy]

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 intermittent 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 (WHO).

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 per cent compared to three per cent in urban areas.

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