RBC announces new response plan for malaria

The Rwanda Biomedical Center has announced new efforts to help eliminate malaria in the country.
Dr Karema (L) with  Usaid director Peter Malnak at the forum on Thursday.  (Timothy Kisambira)
Dr Karema (L) with Usaid director Peter Malnak at the forum on Thursday. (Timothy Kisambira)

The Rwanda Biomedical Center has announced new efforts to help eliminate malaria in the country.

This will involve expanding indoor residual spraying, more access to treated mosquito nets and behaviour change campaign, among others, according to Dr Corine Karema, the head of malaria and other parasitic diseases at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

Speaking at the second Rwanda Malaria Forum in Kigali on Thursday, Dr Karema said the new effort underpins government’s commitment to eliminate malaria by 2018. 

So far, around 83 per cent of Rwandan households have treated mosquito nets. The government targets at least one mosquito net per two people.

“The supply of mosquito nets used to be done once in three years but it will now be done every two years because we found out that in three years, a mosquito net has already lost its efficacy,” she said.

“We will put more efforts in behaviour change communication to sensitise the public about the  importance of mosquito nets in the fight against malaria, indoor residual spraying and rapid treatment of all malaria cases,” says Karema. 

She said indoor residual spraying had already started in Bugesera, Nyagatare and Gisagara districts which have more incidences of malaria than other districts.

Community case management will also be empowered to quickly respond to malaria treatment within 24 hours of onset of symptoms, especially for children under five.

The number of children under five years getting appropriate treatment within 24 hours grew from 845 in 2009 to 96 per cent in 2013.

The death toll of malaria was 439 in 2012, according to information from the ministry.

 In 2013, around 900, 000 cases of malaria were diagonised. Of these, 409 people died, with 30 per cent of them being children under five.

 Figures show that the morbidity rate in the country stands at 9 per cent while the mortality rate is at 4 per cent.

Malaria comes as fourth killer disease in Rwanda after Neonatal illness, Pneumopathies and Cardio-vascular diseases.

Speaking at the same forum, the Usaid director, Peter Malnak, said between 2006 and 2011, Rwanda’s health management information system reported an 86 per cent reduction in malaria incidence, an 87 per cent reduction in malaria morbidity, a 74 per cent reduction in malaria mortality, and a 71 per cent reduction in malaria test positivity rate.

Dr Karema says the reduction in malaria-attributed deaths last year was down to various interventions.

These include distribution of long lasting insecticide nets, indoor residual spraying and behaviour change communication for people to understand the importance of sleeping under treated mosquito nets.

RBC, however, cites securing sufficient resources to allow sustained and timely financing of the programme as one of the challenges.

The meeting also noted that the districts most affected by malaria are those close to borders with neighbouring countries.

“We have realised that the districts severely affected by malaria are those at the border. So, we have recommended that there should be a thorough scrutiny and surveillance of the issue to ensure that other East African countries make concerted efforts to halt malaria through cross border actions, ” Michael Katende, the Principal Health Officer at the EAC secretariat said.

The US, through the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) which earmarked about $145 million for malaria control interventions in the country between 2007 and 2013, is allocating $18 million for the same purpose this year, according to Eric Tongren, PMI Resident Advisor.

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