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We ensure countries stay on track in fight against malaria

As one of malaria zones in the world, Kenya has been the focus of global interventions including the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, the global platform for coordinated action against malaria. Melanie Renshaw, the Interim- Chief Programme Officer tells us more

Evelyn Makena @evemake_g

What malaria intervention is Roll Back Malaria partnership implementing in Kenya?

We have adopted integrated community case management in Kenya where we ensure that areas with limited health workers and health facilities, community health workers carry out malaria treatment especially for children under five.

Since 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has adopted surveillance as one of its interventions, as it recognises importance of having data and keeping up with what’s happening in real time to make adjustments on malaria control programmes.

Another intervention is intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), which women receive during antenatal visits to reduce maternal malaria episodes.

What does the high burden to high impact approach adopted by RBM and partners during the 71st World Health Assembly entail?

There was an 18 per cent decrease in malaria incidents globally in 2010- 2017 and 35 per cent reduction in malaria deaths. However, during that period the decrease of burden of the malaria on the high-burden countries was stagnating. Some countries actually recorded an increase in malaria incidences. The high impact to high burden approach was adopted as a way of ensuring countries get back on track in the fight against malaria.

What are the specific target areas of the approach?

The approach focuses on four key areas: political will, strategic use of data, guidance and coordination. Political will involves high-level engagement and accountability by governments. Currently, there is an ongoing campaign between RBM and African Union Commission dubbed Zero Malaria Starts With Me.

It emphasises on the need for all countries whether high or low malaria endemic to take responsibility. Strategic use of data puts emphasis on data to track progress and targeting resources in problem areas for maximum impact.

Under the approach, WHO guides countries to develop interventions relevant and need specific while partners ensure proper coordination of malaria control programmes.

What’s the progress in achievement of the global 2030 goals on malaria?

We are off track in achieving the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria that sets ambitious targets on malaria by 2030. The 40 per cent reduction of malaria cases (since 2015) by 2020 is not likely to be achieved by the high-burden countries. This is one of the reasons why high burden to high impact approach was launched.

WHO targets to have a 75 per cent reduction by 2025 and at least 90 per cent by 2030. The targets were based on existing interventions, new trials. The stagnation in achieving the goals is a wake-up call for everyone, but in the long run, the targets are achievable.

Some African countries are set to be declared malaria-free, what lessons can learn from them?

WHO has a list of five countries that should be able to eliminate malaria by 2020 including Namibia, eSwatini, Algeria and South Africa.

What we can learn from them is what they have particularly done in supporting malaria control programmes through domestic resources. Consistent malaria commitments by the governments produce good results. Having enough resources domestically can boost the fight against malaria in Kenya and other countries across the world.

What does Africa stand to gain by fighting malaria?

A child can get malaria at least six times in year, which may lead to missing school. Severe malaria can cause developmental consequences for children. Abseentism from work by adults who have malaria means reduced productivity. By eliminating malaria the country can boost its tourism income. Stories go around that someone got malaria when they came to Kenya, which may not be good for tourism.

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