Struggle against malaria in Rwanda: Successes and failures

Like many tropical countries, Rwanda has been prone to Malaria, but many measures to counter the disease have been implemented. Malaria is a disease that is caused by a protozoan known as plasmodium, and it is spread by anopheles female mosquitoes, which becomes very active late at night when people are deeply asleep.
FIGHTING MALARIA : taskforce spraying chemicals to kill mosquitoes.
FIGHTING MALARIA : taskforce spraying chemicals to kill mosquitoes.

Like many tropical countries, Rwanda has been prone to Malaria, but many measures to counter the disease have been implemented. Malaria is a disease that is caused by a protozoan known as plasmodium, and it is spread by anopheles female mosquitoes, which becomes very active late at night when people are deeply asleep.

Conditions that favour the breeding of mosquitoes include stagnant water, bushy areas around residential areas, empty tins within or around homes. Planting crops around homes also act as breeding spots for the Malaria vector.

It is therefore advisable to clean around where people live in order flee our selves from malaria fever. Expectant mothers are the most vulnerable, and special mosquito nets are donated to them in order to reduce their risks of getting Malaria.

In addition, they are sensitised using all physical means to avoid catching the disease. Malaria however, keeps on varying as far as medication is concerned.

In some countries, It will respond to some drugs positively thereby getting cured, whereas the same drug might be ineffective in another country.

A massive campaign to use mosquito nets is thus the only reliable option left. The nets are sprayed and used to protect people from mosquitoes.

A chemical locally known as Karishya lasts for a period of six months, and each packet costs two hundred francs (200frw).

Malaria therefore does not have a permanent reliable cure and protection. It is as complex as that. And that is why multifaceted measures have been put in place in order to contain the situation.

A health insurance scheme known as Mutuelle de Santé has been made compulsory for all families. Mutuelle de Santé, is a community health system in Rwanda where a contribution of one thousand (1000 FRW), almost US $ 2 annually is made by all families.

It is in the same line that a more comprehensive measure has been put in place. Health counsellors have been trained to sensitise the population on sound practices that will help them fight diseases, Malaria in particular.

A number of challenges were however encountered, while trying to implement the preventive measures. Some sections of the  community reluctantly accepted the idea of spraying their houses. The attitude was a big blow to the ‘young’ initiative.

People who did not positively respond to this programme included the Jehovah’s Witnesses and some other few who are still conservative and cling to their old ways of life. A pilot scheme had been started in six districts to test the viability of the project but it was hampered by rainfall.

“The reason why spraying doesn’t continue during rainy season is because the chemical gets washed away and people have to first take out their property in order to carry on spraying effectively. This is impractical in the rainy season”, said Nyiraharerimana Epiphania of the national program for fighting malaria in Rwanda.

As far as health counsellors are concerned, more need to be done, especially in terms of equipping them with the basics. The idea would help them to effectively sensitize the population on safe and healthy lifestyles, which in turn would help them keep Malaria and other diseases at bay. 

Experts say that, research on Malaria drugs is going on. They have been trying to see how they can replace the existing Malaria drugs that are proving inefficient with others.

In addition, some people have not conformed to the policy of health insurance and hence cannot access medicine. This has rendered the efforts to fight the pandemic futile.

Contact: arutazigwa@yahoo.fr

 

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