KIGALI - Rwanda may be the first country to eliminate Malaria in the region if all strategies set forward are implemented according to plan.
According to the Director of Malaria unit in TRAC Plus, Dr. Corine Karema, the country intends to enter a pre-elimination phase come 2012.
“We have a strategic plan to enter a pre-elimination phase in 2012, and according to the internal review we did with the country team, we realized that we have achieved more than 80 percent of our targets,” said Karema, who is also the acting Director General of Trac Plus.
She made the remarks at the beginning of a two-week meeting of experts aimed at reviewing progress regarding Malaria control.
“Today, we have external reviewers who are here to help us know where we are and re-orient our strategies towards pre-elimination of Malaria by 2012,” she explained.
For the pre-elimination phase, the health sector had to first consolidate all interventions, and currently the country plans to upgrade universal coverage of mosquito nets distribution to ensure that all people in the country use them.
“The next step will be discussing with all neighbouring countries to have harmonized Malaria control strategies,” she said.
“We have distributed more than six million mosquito nets since 2009 and we ensured that over 90 percent of all households in the country have at least three mosquito nets,” said Karema.
During the same event, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, said that her ministry normally conducts regular Malaria reviews, but the current one was the first that brought on board external experts and health partners.
“We will review all the achievement and challenges. This is going to be done by external reviewers who will look at our policies, strategies and programme implementation,” said Binagwaho.
She emphasized that; “Malaria control in the country is performing well; we have better results than other countries. Programmes are not fragmented; they are all integrated in the basic health care.”
Although Rwanda has made huge strides in malaria control, Binagwaho said that the country faced a problem two years ago, when there was an eight-month delay in supplying mosquito nets.
“In the process, 600 people died of malaria but we made a quick recovery,” she said.
Meanwhile, the head of the review team, Dr. Akpaka Kalu said that; “We have heard very good things about Malaria control in Rwanda. This country has a vision of moving toward Malaria elimination, and hopefully a Malaria-free country. So the assignment we have is to review the programmes and try to define strategies that would lead Rwanda towards a Malaria free future.”
Kalu is an advisor to the World Health Organization on Malaria.