Malaria prevalence in the country has decreased to a whooping 60 percent in the last two years due to the high government commitment in its fight, officials have confirmed.
The figures were released yesterday by the Director of Malaria unit in the National Malaria Control Programme (TRAC-Plus) Dr. Corine Karema during a Malaria partners’ meeting in Kigali.
“Malaria is viewed by the world as a killer disease that cannot be easily prevented, but in Rwanda we have proved the fact that malaria can be treated and eliminated through a number of strategies,” said Karema.
Karema said that in 2005, malaria was number one natural cause of death for children under the age of five.
However, he said, by 2009, it had fallen to number three, indicating a big stride the country has taken in fighting the epidemic.
The Ministry of Health through TRAC-Plus has made remarkable progress towards reducing the malaria burden, especially for children under five and expectant mothers.
According to Karema, malaria has been fought through prevention, treatment, mosquito control, health systems strengthening through the introduction of the communal health insurance (Mutuelle de Sante) and assistance from development partners like the U.S President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).
According to officials in TRAC-Plus, the country now aims at achieving the pre-elimination phase of malaria control within five years and intends to target the whole population rather than just the most vulnerable groups with its malaria interventions.
Speaking to The New Times, the head of PMI in Rwanda, Wayne Stinison praised how the government of Rwanda has been instrumental in fighting malaria.
“This is one of the most successful countries under the PMI programme and has made a big difference in trying to protect people’s lives,” he said attributing the achievement to the political will of the government.
He added that the U.S government hopes to maintain or increase the funding of the PMI programme despite the surging world economic crisis.
In 2007, over 71,000 treatments of injectable artemether were procured and distributed to health facilities for treatment of severe malaria my PMI in addition to a total of 715,000 ACT treatments which were procured, packaged and distributed to community health workers.
Karema says that the next phase for TRAC-Plus is to work on total elimination of malaria and that it will be achieved through putting more efforts in achieving universal coverage, implementing of regional strategies, and investing in new tools.