Last Saturday, April 25 was World Malaria Day. In commemoration of the day, people across the globe took part in a wide range of activities as part of advocacy against the killer disease. The day that was marked under the theme, Invest in the future: Defeat malaria, saw the World Health Organisation, release a new strategy to reduce malaria cases and deaths by 90% by 2030.
According to Dr Corine Karema, the head of malaria and other parasitic diseases at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), efforts are under way to eliminate malaria by 2018.
She says that more than 83% of households have at least one insecticide treated mosquito net and that three out of four children and pregnant women sleep under these mosquito nets.
“About 99% of malaria cases are treated with efficacious antimalarial drugs and 96% of children under the age of five who get ill are treated within 24hours of the onset of the malaria symptoms. Up to 100% of all suspected malaria cases receive a confirmed diagnosis with advanced testing equipment,” she notes.
The country has progressively managed to curb malaria related deaths. The proportion of malaria deaths has been reduced to 5%, Karema says.
Malaria transmission in Rwanda occurs year-round with two peaks from May to June and November to December.
The RBC has classified 19 of the country’s 30 districts as malaria endemic and the remaining 11 as epidemic-prone.
Karema adds that indoor residual spraying had already started in Bugesera, Nyagatare and Gisagara districts which have the highest incidence of malaria in the country.
The World Malaria Day, comes about three weeks after the Mother and Child health care week that was concluded locally. During the week in which Malaria prevention was the focus, distribution of about 1.4 million insecticide treated mosquito nets in 13 districts, with support of the US government, was launched.
“Getting bed nets is not enough, their effective use is also crucial,” said Patrick Ndimubanzi, the minister of state in charge of public health and primary healthcare during the launch of the event in Bugesera district.
Malaria is among the main killer diseases in the country, alongside neonatal illness, pneumopathies and cardio-vascular diseases.
According to Eric M. Wong, the deputy chief of Mission at the US embassy in Kigali, his government has spent over $143 million in Rwanda toward fighting malaria since 2007.
The number of children under five years getting appropriate treatment for malaria within 24 hours grew from 84.5 per cent in 2009 to 96 per cent in 2013.
The death toll of malaria was 439 in 2012, according to information from the Ministry of Health.
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.
Last year, the country met the MDG 5 of reducing the number of women who die during pregnancy, or shortly after giving birth, by three-quarters, beating the 2015 deadline.
This came barely three years after the country hit the MDG 4 target on child mortality too, by reducing deaths from 156 deaths per 1,000 children in the last 20 years to 54 in 2011, reflecting a two-thirds decline.
As of September last year, about 83 per cent of households had treated mosquito nets. The government targets at least one mosquito net per two people.
The number of people who die as a result of malaria reduced by more than half in Africa between 2000 and 2013, according to a new report published by the World Health Organisation.
The same report says mortality reduced by 5 percent between 2012 and last year, indicating that global and national efforts to combat the mainly tropical disease were effective.
There were about 198 million cases of malaria globally in 2013 and an estimated 584,000 deaths, and most of them occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute from the disease. Malaria mortality rates among children in Africa have been reduced by an estimated 58 percent since 2000.
“Mortality globally, fell by 47 percent between 2000 and 2013, a slight increase from 42 percent between 2000 and 2012,” the report says.