Call for stronger interventions to fight malaria

Malaria incidence and mortality rates remain far lower in comparison to cases registered in 2010 however progress is beginning to stall, the World Malaria Report 2017 indicates.
Indoor residual spraying to fight mosquitoes. Net.
Indoor residual spraying to fight mosquitoes. Net.

Malaria incidence and mortality rates remain far lower in comparison to cases registered in 2010 however progress is beginning to stall, the World Malaria Report 2017 indicates.

The report highlights the need for strong leadership, greater funding commitments and expansion of life-saving tools to eliminate malaria in Africa by 2030.

Malaria cases have increased across the African continent, with 194 million cases reported in 2016, up from 191 million in 2015, but malaria mortality rates decreased by 2,000 during the same period, according to the report released on Wednesday.

The Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, Joy Phumaph, said that this year’s World Malaria Report warns that there could be loss of tremendous gains made in reducing malaria sickness and death in Africa unless more is done to save lives from this preventable and treatable disease.

“We cannot forget the cost of this disease on our people and our economies. Last year on our continent, malaria killed 407,000 people and robbed us of US$12 billion in lost productivity, investment and associated health care costs. For every $1 we invest in malaria control and elimination we yield a $36 return for our economies,” he said.

Phumaph said getting back on track to reach the goal of a malaria-free Africa by 2030 will require leaders to prioritise funding, scale up access to life-saving malaria interventions and new tools and strengthen health systems and the international community sustaining their commitments to these efforts.

According to the report, Rwanda is among the four African countries that have experienced an increase in malaria cases.

“Four countries in Africa recorded a 250,000 case increase in 2016, compared to 2015: Rwanda, Nigeria, DR Congo and Niger,” the report indicates.

Meanwhile, a total of eight countries in Africa recorded a greater than 20 per cent increase in cases in 2016 compared to 2015.

Malick Kayumba, the head of communications at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, told The New Times, yesterday, that since strategies to fight malaria are in place, the present cases mainly crop up from the issue of people’s mindsets.

He said this is, however, being approached through campaigns sensitising the public about prevention measures and the effects which not only affect people’s health but their livelihoods as well.

“What I know we have the strategies to manage the situation, and prevention measures are in place like distribution of mosquito nets, spraying of households, among others. There is also availability of free treatment for people who are in Ubudehe 1 and 2 [categories],” Kayumba said.

Ubudehe is a national social stratification scheme.

He warned that the current season is likely to lead to an increase of malaria cases, but called on the public to be aware and take prevention measures.

“Because of the season we are putting in more effort. Every week, education about malaria prevention and treatment is done at health centres and in the communities. We also take sensitisation drives to communities through comic series, with this we educate as we entertain such that the message is clearly understood,” Kayumba added.

He noted the role of community health workers who are engaged in sustained sensitisation at the village level.

“Community outreach is done throughout the country, behaviour change is so important. This is why we keep educating people and reminding them through radios, televisions.”