Commemoration of World Malaria Day in Kenya
NAIROBI, Kenya—World Malaria Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the past year and look towards future efforts in malaria control. This year's commemoration is a special one for Kenya, as the country is documenting its progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Combatting malaria is part of MDG goals 4, 5, and 6, which focus on reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating malaria, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases.
During a media briefing to jumpstart the celebrations and share progress made in the past year, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Health, Mr. James Macharia, stated the country has made significant strides in the fight against malaria. He cited the recently released Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) (2014) report that showed a marked improvement in various health indicators, in which malaria control featured as one of the most improved.
Five years ago, malaria cases accounted for over 30% of outpatient attendances. This has recently decreased to 15%. The DHS report indicates under-five mortality has also decreased from 74 deaths per 1000 live births from 2008 – 2009, to 52 deaths per 1000 in 2014. Recent achievements have been made in the scale-up of interventions, such as ownership of at least one long-lasting insecticide-treated net (LLITN) in every household in Kenya increasing marginally from 56% to 59%. However in Nyanza and Western Region, where the burden of malaria is highest, 81% of households own at least one LLITN.
The Secretary attributed this milestone to a major scale-up of LLITN distribution, increased access to diagnostic testing, wide use of Artemesinin combination drugs (ACTS), and malaria surveillance, among other interventions.
While noting the interventions as key contributors to success, the Secretary also acknowledged the role of partners, which he said play a key role in ensuring an effective combination of interventions for each part of the country.
The strong partnership between the government, development partners, the private sector, civil society, and communities has contributed immensely to the achievements seen today.
Ms. Barbara Hughes, Director, Office of Population and Health, USAID/Kenya, was also present at the event, reiterating the U.S. government’s commitment in supporting the Ministry’s fight against malaria. The U.S. government supports malaria control in Kenya by funding programs through the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), USAID, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During the celebration of World Malaria Day in Busia County, Dr. Custodia Mandlhate, the WHO Country Representative, urged the counties to use the “Kenya Malaria County Profiles” recently developed by the National Malaria Control Program with support from MEASURE Evaluation-PIMA, and funded by USAID. These profiles summarize the epidemiology of malaria and recommended interventions by county. Using such evidence to guide investment in malaria control will ensure the most efficient use of resources to improve health.
MEASURE Evaluation-PIMA supports the Kenyan Government in building sustainable monitoring and evaluation capacity to use evidence-based decisions to improve the effectiveness of the Kenyan health system. Among other activities, MEASURE Evaluation-PIMA currently supports the National Malaria Control Program in strengthening malaria surveillance systems in Kenya. As celebrations continue, MEASURE Evaluation-PIMA will be concluding the last day of a series of trainings on malaria surveillance for over 640 health workers from Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu, and Kakamega counties.