Community Health Workers tasked to end malaria in Rwanda

Participants of the launch of Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs pose for a group photo.

Despite drastic efforts to end Malaria, Rwanda is one of the fifteen countries in Africa that are still burdened with the epidemic.

In 2016, Malaria cases had an upsurge with an eight-fold increase from 564,407 cases in 2012 to four million in 2016.

To boost the efforts, the Ministry of Health together with other stakeholders on Tuesday, January 28, launched an intensive campaign dubbed: Zero Malaria starts with me, to put an end to the disease.

A drone pilot with Charis test one of the drones which will be used in Zero Malaria campaign in Kigali on January 28, 2020. Emmanuel Kwizera

The launch of the drive in the country makes Rwanda the 13th African country to embark on the intense 6-month-long activities to combat the epidemic.

“Zero Malaria starts with me” campaign seeks to build community ownership of malaria efforts and increase political commitment for malaria elimination across the African continent by engaging political leaders at all levels, mobilizing resources and funding, including domestically and empowering communities to hold leaders accountable in the fight against malaria.

Basing on the essential work done by Community Health Workers in treating and reducing malaria cases, Minister of Health, Dr. Diane Gashumba hopes for better results from the community-oriented campaign.

“More than 50 percent of cases are treated by Community Health Workers, which shows how actively our people are able to participate in malaria elimination. Through ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’ campaign, we hope they can further be involved in improving our nation’s health,” Gashumba is quoted in the statement as saying.

Planned activities

The campaign will feature different activities including the use of drones for larviciding to reduce the adult population of mosquitoes and showcased other innovative vector control tools.

Other key activities include a mass-mosquito net distribution, some of which will be locally produced, and indoor residual spraying campaigns in malaria-endemic regions.

As part of the campaign, all Rwandans will be urged to step up the fight against the disease, from political leaders to the private sector and local communities.

The results of the campaign will be presented in Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases that is scheduled on June 25 on the sideline of Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting (CHOGM).  

The RBM Partnership to End Malaria which is the largest global platform for coordinated action against malaria, is the main partner in the campaign.

Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of RBM Partnership to End Malaria sees the campaign as the best move against the desease.

“There is no better way to start the Decade of Action to achieve SDGs than by having another country [Rwanda] joining the pan-African ‘Zero Malaria Starts with me’ campaign. Together, we can achieve zero malaria within a generation—a major and historic achievement that will unlock economic and social potential of our communities and countries,” he says.

The “Zero Malaria Starts with me campaign” was launched in 2018 by President Paul Kagame in his role as Chair of the African Union. It was endorsed by African leaders in July 2018 at the 31st African Union Summit. The campaign is jointly coordinated by the African Union Commission and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. It started in Senegal and has since extended to 12 more 13 countries, including Rwanda.

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