Malaria prevalence on the verge of decline in Western Kenya

Malaria cases by regions [Graphic courtesy Internews]
Malaria cases by regions [Graphic courtesy Internews]
A new national survey on malaria in Kenya shows a major decline in prevalence due to the household use of mosquito nets and visits to health facility for treatment.

The 2015 Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey (KMIS) shows that the prevalence has reduced in the Lake Vitoria region, a region known for outbreak of malaria, from 38 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2015.

“The success is attributed to ownership of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN) by most households,” Ministry of Health Acting Director of Medical Services Dr. Jackson Kioko said at the launch of the survey results.
Kioko noted that ownership and of nets has increased in the past six years whereby more than six in 10 households now own the nets as compared to 4.4 in 10 households in 2010.

“The number of high risk group’s namely pregnant women and children using the nets at night has also increased tremendously leading to low deaths in the two groups,” he added.

The survey indicated that the decline in malaria prevalence in the lake endemic zone is promising but called for the need to continue to fully scale up malaria control interventions in the lake endemic region.

In the coast endemic area, the malaria rate among children age six months to 14 years has increased from four percent in 2010 to eight percent. However, the survey indicated that there is need to continue focused intervention efforts in the coastal region to stem the slight increase in prevalence observed there.

“Today marks a celebration in the country as the gains made has been elusive in many past years. And on behalf of the government I thank our development partners for the support in suppressing the prevalence,” Kioko revealed.

He challenged health personnel to adopt a weekly monitoring given that the diseases is still the major killer in the country and also account for 16 percent of bed occupants in health facilities.

He said that 3+ doses of Sulfadoxine pyrimethamine (SP)/ Fansidar (SP) as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in helping attain the 80 percent universal coverage.

“To sustain the gains, investment levels need to be maintained, especially in the high burden areas around Lake Victoria and in the coastal region,” the Head of National Malaria Control Program Dr. Waqo Ejersa said.

He observed that investment in surveillance and preventive measures is still needed in other regions to ensure that there is no resurgence of the disease in those areas.

Ejersa revealed that there are plans to reduce the national prevalence rate to four percent by the time the next survey is conducted in the country.

The survey found out that 63 percent of households own at least one LLIN and that 56 percent of children under five years and 58 percent of pregnant women sleep under LLIN.

It further noted that 35 percent of pregnant women in Kenya and 56 percent of those from malaria endemic zones took 2+ doses of Sulfadoxine pyrimethamine (SP)/ Fansidar (SP) at least once during Antenatal Care (ANC) visit.

Waqo recommended that the importance of using a parasitological test to diagnose malaria prior to treatment should be emphasized since most fevers will not be due to malaria in low prevalence zones.

“We have to look at control interventions targeting the school-age children who have the highest malaria rate prevalence to help address the burden of anemia in children caused by malaria and other deficiencies,” he added.

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