Health officials raise red flag over upsurge in malaria cases

Public health officials have called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to bring down malaria cases in the country, which they say have been on the increase over the past months.
Dr Ntaganda (L) addresses the media on preparations for the malaria symposium as other officials look on. (Doreen Umutesi)
Dr Ntaganda (L) addresses the media on preparations for the malaria symposium as other officials look on. (Doreen Umutesi)

Public health officials have called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to bring down malaria cases in the country, which they say have been on the increase over the past months.

This was said in a news conference called yesterday in preparation for a malaria symposium that opens in Kigali on Friday.

 

Rwanda and other regional countries are experiencing an upsurge of malaria cases following a decade of success in significantly reducing morbidity and mortality due to the killer tropical disease.

 

According to data from the Ministry of Health, Rwanda registered about two million malaria cases last year yet in 2012 cases were just 514,000.

 

Lt Col Dr Fabien Ntaganda, a hemato-pathologist at Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe, said there was need to bring to public attention the reasons malaria cases are increasing.

“Malaria cases had reduced in recent years but are now on the rise. This is why we are putting in more efforts and that’s why we organised a symposium to collectively see how this can be tackled,” Ntaganda said.

The symposium will involve discussions on the ways and means of eradicating malaria in Rwanda.

Dr Jules Mugabo, the head of malaria department at the World Health Organisation country office, said malaria is not a problem in only Rwanda but rather prevalent in other countries like Uganda, Namibia and Zimbabwe, that’s why combining efforts with various parties will help in the successful curbing of the disease.

“It is through gatherings like this coming symposium that we will share ideas, we will learn how other countries are handling or have handled the problem and the kind of measures they have taken,” Dr Mugabo said.

He attributed the increase in malaria cases in the country to laxity in the usage of treated mosquito bed-nets, neglecting the clearing of bushes, not clearing of stagnant water, among others.

Lt Col Dr Jules Kabahizi, the head of internal medicine at Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe, said malaria is among the top 10 leading causes of death all over the world.

Developing countries still face non-communicable diseases; however, the Ministry of Health is doing its best to deal with the issue, he said.

“Since the beginning of this year we have received like 50 cases but with each month the number increases and if we include other hospitals like King Faisal, Kigali, and University Teaching Hospital of Kigali, the number of patients surges,” Dr Kabahizi said.

The forthcoming symposium has been organised by Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defence.

The symposium represents a unique opportunity to discuss and define strategies and interventions that could be implemented at different levels of the health system and contribute to a significant reduction of malaria cases with a long-term objective of eliminating the disease in Rwanda.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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