KIREHE —In a bid to crack down on malaria in Rwanda, the Ministry of Health last Friday launched three health strategies to control the disease.
The new health packages were launched by the health minister Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo as part of activities to mark International Malaria Day. Ntawukuriryayo also announced a drop in malaria infection in the country by 65 percent since 2005.
The day was marked under an international theme ‘Malaria with out borders.’ In Rwanda the national theme was ‘Free Rwanda from malaria now.’
The new strategies include the use of Coartem a newly-recommended malaria drug by children below five years. It also includes a new health approach called Malaria Home-based Management and the distribution of free Long Lasting mosquito Nets (LLINs) to people living with HIV/AIDS.
The drugs will be sold at Frw50 in community health posts and Frw300 in health centres. The Home-based management would involve use of community Health Workers (CHW) in tracking patients and carrying out a preventive campaign.
Speaking at the occasion held at Bukora Nyamugari, Kirehe district, Ntawukuriryayo attributed the downward trend to various government interventions and the attitude among parents in implementing government strategies over the years. The government interventions include indoor residual spraying, that was applied in Kigali City and supplying insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
According to officials about three million insecticide-treated mosquito nets were distributed between 2005and 2008. Last year the ministry distributed 80,000 mosquito nets to people living with HIV/AIDS. At least 65 per cent of children below five years, sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets while the percentage of pregnant mothers using treated bed nets stand at 65 percent.
"Rwanda is there because of parents and that’s why they should be there for their country," he said urging parents to adopt family planning methods to avoid population explosion.
"We should make malaria a taboo in Rwanda and look forward to fostering development," he said.
Relating to the international theme, the minister stressed that malaria control has no borders. He urged HIV-infected individuals to sleep under bed nets to prevent malaria infections.
Malaria affects 40 percent of the world’s population according to the recent statistics and threatens 2.4 billion people. The disease reportedly kills a child every 30 seconds with 90 percent of deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
The occasion attracted officials of several Non-Governmental organizations involved in malaria control and fight against HIV/AIDS in the country. They included TRAC-PLUS a centre for Infectious Disease Control, PSI, UNICEF, USAID and World Health Organization (WHO) among others. Also present was the Hollywood star Ashley Judd who headed a team of delegates from the PSI.