What you need to know:
- Health ministry statistics indicate that malaria accounts for about 30 per cent of the total illness in the country.
- According to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, the country will require Sh24 billion in the next four years, or Sh6 billion annually, to eradicate malaria.
The formation of a special council to fight malaria is a welcome response to a disease that poses a grave national challenge. With 3.5 million new cases and 10, 700 deaths every year, it is a massive health burden.
The End Malaria Council (EMC) has set its focus on local pharmaceutical manufacturing and provision of other health supplies. It will bring together government, private sector and civil society representatives to pool resources and tackle the endemic health crisis.
Malaria is not just a major killer; it also has a huge impact on economic growth. Health ministry statistics indicate that malaria accounts for about 30 per cent of the total illness in the country.
It is to blame for low productivity, high levels of absenteeism from school and reduced savings and investment. Although the people living in western Kenya are at an especially high risk of contracting the disease, it also afflicts many other regions, including the coastal counties.
According to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, the country will require Sh24 billion in the next four years, or Sh6 billion annually, to eradicate malaria. This is a colossal sum of money. Donors come in handy, with the country contributing 46 per cent of the cost.
Malaria is a leading cause of death, accounting for 19 per cent of hospital admissions and 50 per cent of outpatient cases in public health institutions. The best way to tackle it is to prioritise prevention, which is better than cure.
The EMC must accelerate efforts to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes by spraying and killing their larvae. Stagnant pools of water must be drained as they provide a breeding ground for the malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.
Lastly, the EMC should accelerate the campaign to eradicate malaria and ease the health scourge. Surveillance and prevention are the weapons that must be relentlessly used.