National Forum Unites Malaria-Control Experts in Kenya
With support from MEASURE Evaluation, the first Kenya National Malaria Forum (KNMF) brought together stakeholders from throughout Kenya to share knowledge and experiences about malaria control. More than 130 participants from the Kenyan government, NGOs, the press, faith-based organizations, universities, and other organizations participated in the forum, which was held from October 10-11 in Nairobi.
“The malaria community in Kenya has been thinking about a national forum on malaria for a long time,” said Abdinasir Amin, MEASURE Evaluation’s Resident Technical Advisor for Malaria in Nairobi, who served as the forum coordinator. “People in malaria policy, research, program implementation and other areas have been doing good work, but often in separate silos. We wanted people not only to come and discuss the issues but to have a shared vision for the future.”
With a theme of “Moving from Evidence to Action,” the forum had two broad goals: first, to create a national dialogue about malaria control, and second, to highlight the need to use evidence to scale up strategies and interventions for malaria control at all levels.
Despite substantial progress in malaria control over the past decade, malaria continues to be Kenya’s leading cause of death. An estimated 20 million Kenyans are exposed to malaria on a regular basis, and malaria contributes to 30 to 50 percent of outpatient visits to health facilities and 20 percent of all hospital admissions.
Kenya’s National Malaria Control Strategy calls for reducing deaths and disability from malaria to two-thirds of their 2007-2008 levels by 2017. MEASURE Evaluation helped Kenya’s Division of Malaria Control develop a national monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan to reach this goal, and continues to provide technical support. Abdinasir currently assists with this effort.
Dr Shanaz Shariff, Director of the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, said that the KNMF would focus national efforts to reduce death and disability from malaria. “As we gather here today as researchers, policy makers, and program implementers, it is important that we discuss and agree on the best ways to implement what works and look for evidence on where the gaps exist,” he said.
In addition to connecting technical experts, the KNMF also brought national media attention to malaria control efforts. Abdinasir worked with the Kenyan Alliance of Health and Science Reporters and other writers, to connect reporters with experts and story ideas. As a result, the Daily Nation, the largest daily newspaper in Eastern Africa, published stories on malaria control efforts through vaccine development and coping with pesticide-resistant mosquito populations. Abdinasir was also interviewed as a malaria technical expert for KISS FM, a news radio program, and K24, a local news channel.
MEASURE Evaluation has worked in Kenya since 1997 to strengthen PEPFAR reporting efforts, monitor child health outcomes, and otherwise ensure Kenya has the information necessary to monitor and evaluate its health strategies, plan and implement programs, and develop health policy.