Malaria-related deaths for children under five have increased by half in Nyanza District, a problem which requires concerted efforts to address, according to officials.
Following this upsurge in malaria cases in the district, a decision was take to carry out indoor residue spraying (IRS) in homes and rallying people to the proper use of treated mosquito nets.
The one month anti-mosquito spray campaign is expected to start on September 21 and end on October 24.
The Director of Nyanza Hospital, Dr Léon Hakizimana Kagabo, said the exercise will be carried out in Nyanza’s five sectors of Kibirizi, Ntyazo, Busoro, Kigoma and Muyira, which fall in the Amayaga sub-region and known to be hot and, therefore, a hotbed for mosquitoes.
“Malaria cases have increased over the past months so much that the deaths of children under five years of age due to malaria increased by at least 50 per cent which is a very serious problem for the district. That’s why measures were taken by the leadership including IRS,” he said.
Dr Kagabo said there are many factors contributing to the increase in malaria incidence like stagnant water near households and the fact that people still live with livestock in houses, which contribute to the proliferation of mosquitoes.
Other factors, he said, include people who choose to keep new treated mosquito nets instead of using them and use old ones that have lost efficacy
“Others sell them despite having little children who are more vulnerable to malaria than the adults. This calls for sensitisation of people about the importance and use of mosquito nets,” Kagabo said.
Community health workers will be the focal agents in the spraying exercise while local leaders, including village chiefs and cell leaders will serve as community mobilisers to ensure maximum cooperation, according to Kagabo.
The spraying will be conducted by community health workers and they will first undergo a three–day training, from September 14-16, while the cells’ executive secretaries and village leaders will start training on September 17.
Eriezel Hagumamahoro, the leader of Kanyundo Village in Muyira Sector, said more efforts should be made in community mobilisation and sensitisation to combat malaria.
“Whereas using of mosquito nets remains elusive in many households, others do not take medicine as prescribed by the doctor and they get malaria relapse. Others are still living with their livestock in houses,” he said.
Efforts to curb malaria
Hagumamahoro said they will continue to sensitise people about appropriate use of mosquito nets, among other strategies, while other measures include continued sensitisation for people to pay their premiums for the community-based health insurance.
Yet, he said, many people at times have health insurance and they resort to ineffective traditional treatment which only escalates malaria. Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) is the coordinator of the IRS activity.
Last year, during the Rwanda Malaria Forum in Kigali, RBC announced measures to eliminate malaria by 2018, which include the IRS which had started in Bugesera District, distribution of treated mosquito nets among Rwandan households and rapid treatment of all malaria cases.
Nyanza is one of the districts with high malaria incidence alongside Bugesera, Nyagatare and Gisagara.