Rwandans positive on malaria fight – study

Drones have been deployed to spray larvicide in mosquito-prone areas across the country to help curtail malaria. File.

A majority of Rwandans are positive on outcomes of the ongoing efforts to fight malaria, a new study, Malaria Futures for Africa (MalaFA), has shown.

The study released on Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria, was commissioned by Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical firm.

The report, among other things, showed that Rwandans are positive about the country’s fight against the disease, citing high levels of political support and funding.

Statistics by the World Health Organisation showed that there has been estimated reduction in the country’s malaria burden with 430,000 fewer cases recorded in 2017 than in 2016.

The public’s and stakeholders’ confidence in the fight against the ailment is, among other things, facilitated by increased funding, closer surveillance of targets, community healthcare, and interventions such as bed nets.

“Political support is described as strong. Malaria control is championed by the President, with the Minister of Health reporting directly to him.

Respondents pointed to increased national funding and closer surveillance of targets, listing numerous strategies that have been in place – training for community healthcare workers, home-based malaria management for adults, and good utilisation of insecticide treated bednets (ITNs), indoor residual spraying (IRS), outdoor spraying, and environmental management,” the report reads in part.

From the study, it emerged that the majority of Rwandans believe that the targets to eliminate malaria deaths by 2030 is possible but called for constant upgrading of current practices  as well as further preventive measures.

“For the most part, respondents believed that both elimination by 2030 and halving deaths were possible. However, they pointed out that current practices are not sufficient and more will need to be done to achieve those goals,” the report further reads.

Among issues of concern for Rwandan stakeholders involved in curbing the ailment was the lack of an active cross-border collaboration mechanism.  

Despite having agreements in place, they were yet to be effected.

“Respondents reported cross-sector collaboration at the ministry level in Rwanda, driven in part by a strong economic development ethos. At a regional level, there was no evidence of active cross-border collaboration, despite agreement on the need for this,” it added.

Progress in the fight against malaria has been attributed to many factors, including the outstanding role played by Community Health Workers.

Information from Rwanda Biomedical Centre released early this year showed that more than 50 per cent of malaria cases were being treated by Community Health Workers.

The introduction of Home Based Management of Malaria (HBM) for both adults and children through Community Health Workers has also seen malaria patients being diagnosed and treated early.

The study noted that among the improvements highlighted necessary, going forward, include increasing community education, and to address healthcare staff retention through training and incentives.

In April this year, the Government said that it plans to start the distribution of mosquito repellents to complement existing measures to fight malaria as part of new initiatives designed to ensure a malaria-free society.

CS Johnson, an American company, has partnered with the Ministry of Health to develop a couple of mosquito repellent solutions for Rwandans, according to government officials.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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