KIGALI - The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Rwanda has registered tremendous success in the fight against malaria, one of the leading killer diseases in developing countries.
According to the WHO report released over the weekend, Rwanda tops the list of African countries that have shown reduced malaria deaths recorded in the past two years.
The State Minister in charge of HIV/Aids and Other Infectious Diseases, Dr Innocent Nyaruhirira confirmed the success on Monday.
“It’s true we (Rwanda) have registered over 50 percent reduction in malaria deaths, as a result of our national campaign against all its sources,” he said.
Dr Nyaruhirira pointed to the 2006 nationwide distribution of treated mosquito nets and drugs to children and pregnant mothers as one of the major efforts that have yielded success in the ant-malaria campaign.
He also attributed Rwanda’s success to the Indoor Residual Spray (IRS), using ICON pesticide. The IRS was launched last year in Kigali City and is being extended to the countryside this year.
The WHO report says that in 2007, the number of hospitalised cases of malaria in children under five years of age was 64 percent lower compared to 2005 and the deaths were 66 percent lower.
However, Dr Nyaruhirira remarked that the drop in malaria deaths doesn’t mean that Rwanda is free from the risk of the disease since its main cause (mosquitoes) is still at large countrywide.
Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia trail Rwanda in the anti-malaria fight and have also registered laudable success, according to the WHO report.
The report shows that Ethiopia has had hospitalised malaria cases in young children reduced by 60 percent since 2005 and the deaths have fallen by 51 percent.
Ghana has had improvements but not very dramatic, with cases falling by 13 percent and deaths reducing to 34 percent, the report says.
In Zambia, the report adds, hospitalised malaria cases fell by 29 percent and deaths dropped by 33 percent.
The WHO charges in the report that currently malaria is responsible for nine percent of the deaths in Africa and two percent of all deaths worldwide. The world body adds that over a million deaths almost all in children are directly attributable to the tropical disease, and at least a million more occur from complications such as severe anaemia.
The WHO’s head of Malaria Programmes, Dr Arata Kicho, is quoted in the report as saying: ‘This is the first time we have seen these results with the new tools (bed nets and drugs) for malaria fight.’
The report was compiled after the study commissioned by the Global Fund, which collects money from governments, foundations and individuals, and distributes it.
The Global Fund commissioned the research to assess the effects of the interventions it had financed since 2002 to eradicate malaria and control other infectious diseases worldwide.
Reducing malaria deaths is also a major goal of the US President Malaria Initiative (UPMI), which has pledged to support Rwanda in the anti-malaria campaign until 2010.