In the heart of Homa Bay County, an initiative is unfolding with the launch of the mass net campaign, a robust response to the persistent and devastating public health challenge of malaria. This effort signifies a united front in our ongoing battle to achieve universal coverage of nets and enhance primary health services.
As we approach the 2023-2024 long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) distribution campaign, it is crucial to explore the broader context of our collective efforts and the pivotal role of the government in advancing public health. The mass net campaign represents a proactive step towards universal coverage of nets, aiming to distribute 15.3 million LLINs in 22 high-risk malaria counties.
Kenya grapples with the burden of malaria particularly in regions such as Lake Victoria, coastal areas, and parts of the Rift Valley. The reduction of malaria prevalence from 11 per cent in 2015 to six per cent signifies progress, but challenges persist as malaria still accounts for 13-18 per cent of all outpatient attendance in public health facilities.
The mass net campaign is a proactive step towards universal health coverage (UHC). As we enter this pivotal phase in our battle against malaria, the campaign becomes about saving lives and fostering a healthier, more prosperous Kenya. This aligns with the goals of the bottom-up economic transformation agenda (Beta) and UHC.
The kitting and deployment of community health promoters in public health campaigns like this are, therefore, a testimony of the empowerment of the communities to take center stage in improving their health.
In this journey, community involvement is paramount. Ensuring that LLINs reach every household demands collective effort. Advocacy and education are vital tools in our arsenal, utilizing influence and expertise to raise awarenss and catalyze behavioral change. The commitment to monitoring and evaluation underscores transparency and accountability, essential components of our dedication to a healthier, more prosperous Kenya and the realization of UHC.
The government’s commitment to UHC is a foundational pillar in the fight against malaria. As part of the broader health reforms, the government has strategically aligned its efforts with the Beta agenda, leveraging comprehensive reforms to strengthen the healthcare system. By adopting World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and prioritizing access to lie-saving nets, Kenya affirms its dedication to the well-being of its citizens.
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As we launch the campaign, we implore all stakeholders to work together to ensure that these nets reach every household in the targeted counties by engaging and involving communities at all stages of this process. I call upon each citizen to embrace this initiative. Use the distributed nets consistently every night, in every season. Your commitment to this simple yet effective action is crucial in preventing the transmission of malaria and achieving our nation targets. Together let us fortify our homes, protect our families, and contribute to the realization of a malaria-free Kenya.
Mary Muthoni is the Principal Secretary, the State Department for Public Health