Kakamega County intensifies malaria vaccination, mosquito nets distribution

Health official distributes mosquito nets during a free medical camp at Osodo Primary School in Homa Bay County. [James Omoro, Standard]

One-year-old Cherry Nekesa cries uncontrollably as malaria vaccine is administered at the Kakamega County General Hospital.

Her mother, Phylis Rueben hails from Matungu sub-county, a malaria endemic zone.

She is among those waiting in the queue for their babies to receive the malaria jab. Phylis is confident the vaccine will give her daughter immunity against malaria.

She is among those who were displaced by flash floods in Kakamega county about a month ago and her baby developed fever and shivering only to be diagnosed with malaria.

In a bid to prevent malaria outbreak, the county government has rolled out vaccination drive and distribution of mosquito nets across the region with a population of over two million people.

The Department of Health had initially warned about a surge in malaria cases following heavy downpour in the county.

Kakamega County Health Executive Benard Wesonga said they are partnering with Centre for Behavior Change and Communication under UNICEF to intensify the mass vaccination drive.

Dr Wesonga urged residents to ensure their children get vaccinated against malaria especially those below five years.

“The immunisation of children under five years has been ongoing ever since the vaccines were introduced and after heavy downpour, we projected an upsurge of malaria cases as there was stagnant water and bushy places where mosquitoes stay and multiply," he said.

"That is why we are advocating for vaccination of vulnerable children and pregnant mothers,” he added.

Kakamega County Health Executive Benard Wesonga. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

The Health CEC said for the adult population they have launched distribution of mosquito across the county.

“We have about 300,000 mosquito nets being distributed across the county with two people per household expected to get the treated nets that repel mosquitoes,” said Wesonga.

Community Health Promoters (CHPs) have been going around the villages registering those who will benefit from the initiative.

“We are also encouraging people to drain stagnant water in their homes to destroy mosquito breeding sites," said Wesonga.

The Health CEC announced that they have antimalarial that treat malaria in the households and the medicine are with CHPs.

"We also have adequate malaria drugs in our health facilities across the county, the 4,250 CHPs are doing a great job," he said.

Wesonga noted that the county has two malaria regions with Matungu, Butere and Ikolomani sub-counties reporting high malaria prevalence.

He said sub-counties with low malaria infections are Lugari and Likuyani constituencies.

“The CHPs have helped in malaria case management and distribution of treated mosquito nets to pregnant mothers and children under five and they have been critical in the management and reduction of hospital admissions and treatment of malaria," said Wesonga.

The CEC assured that they have received enough vaccines from the national government through the Ministry of Health.

“We had borrowed some vaccines from Busia county but we have since returned after the Ministry of Health supplied us with enough vaccines for Malaria, BCG for tuberculosis, rotavirus for diarrhea, whooping cough and tetanus, measles, HPV for cervical cancer, OPV and IPV for poliomyelitis and Yellow fever vaccine,” he said.

However, Wesonga said they have put in place measures to ensure mothers don’t miss out on doses, especially for children who are supposed to get four doses and structures to help trace such cases.