The government is set to distribute 1.7 million mosquito treated bed nets as part of activities to mark Mother and Child Health Week that kicked off yesterday in Kamonyi district.
This was revealed on Sunday by the Head of the Malaria unit in TRAC plus, Dr. Corine Karema.
The Health Week is a countrywide campaign during which critical health interventions such as immunization, de-worming and nutritional support are offered to mothers and children in a bid to further curb maternal and child mortality rates.
According to Karema, the distribution will mainly focus on children below the age of five and pregnant women.
“This is year, we will distribute about 3 million bed nets in total, however, during this specific week, 1.7 million will be given to expectant mothers as well as families with children under the age of five. The activity will take place in several parts of the country,” she said.
According to officials, the launch of the Mother and Child Week will be combined with the National Malaria Day celebrations. Globally, this day falls on April 25.
At a televised forum, the Health Minister, Dr. Richard Sezibera, Sunday noted that significant progress has been attained in malaria prevention, especially through indoor residual spraying and distribution of nets; however much needs to be done to reduce the burden.
Citing people who misuse the bed nets for other purposes such as bridal clothing and poultry ventilation among others, Sezibera said that every person should be responsible enough to ensure that the nets serve their purpose.
“Malaria is still a killer disease and everyone must sleep under a treated net. We have also equipped some community health workers with rapid diagnostic skills to ensure that they test and treat malaria. This training will also be extended to community health workers countrywide,” he noted.
In the same regard he also advised citizens to clear any bushes around them and seek immediate medical care once they suspect to be suffering from the disease.
Over the past two years, the country malaria mortality was cut by 60 percent.
As regards the health week’s activities, the minister said that children below the ages of 16 will be given deworming tablets, those from six months to five years will acquire vitamin A, and breastfeeding mothers will also be given vitamin A and deworming medication.
Administration of medication for bilharzia to children who live near water bodies like Lake Muhazi, Burera and Ruhondo, will also be carried out.
Statistics show that of 1000 babies born, 28 die before one week elapses, 34 die before a month and a half while over 50 die before their first birthday. 750 in 100,000 women still die due to maternal related causes.