Malaria is a curable disease which can also be easily prevented. But despite this it remains the leading killer disease in Africa. About 70,000-110,000 child deaths from malaria are recorded annually, according to WHO statistics. It is also estimated that 40% of health facility expenditures in sub-Saharan Africa are spent on malaria treatment.
Rwanda is experiencing an upsurge of malaria cases following a decade of success in significantly reducing morbidity and mortality due to the disease.
The country registered about two million malaria cases last year, almost four times more than the 514,000 cases reported in 2012 . Addressing this worrying trend requires concerted efforts and a comprehensive public health campaign on prevention of malaria, especially in the rural areas.
Sensitizing people to adopt behavior like use of treated mosquito bed-nets, clearing bushes, and stagnant water, among others should be done by all the stake holders in health. The cost of preventing malaria far outweighs the cost of treatment.
If people are sensitized to embrace the health belief that malaria prevention life styles have more benefits than the consequences of not adopting them, the cases of malaria outbreak will significantly reduce.
The forthcoming Malaria symposium which will open in Kigali tomorrow, should deliberate more on prevention strategies. Malaria treatment for both individuals and the government is costly and in worst case scenarios leads to loss of lives. It also affects the country’s development when the productive workforce is affected by the disease.
There is no reason why Rwanda should not replicate the success it registered against malaria a decade ago.
Therefore, embracing a prevention strategy is the way to go for the key stake holders in the sector. But it will take the effort of every Rwandan to achieve this.