Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki has asked counties with a high malaria burden to allocate more resources towards malaria control.
In a speech read on her behalf by Dr Ejersa Waqo during the national celebrations to mark the World Malaria Day in Mosocho, Kisii County on Wednesday, the Ms Kariuki said although counties had invested a lot in health, more should be done if the war on malaria is to be won.
Ms Kariuki said malaria presents an opportunity for counties to make an impact in the health and well-being of our communities.
Apart from the malaria endemic, western Kenya, Coast and counties in the west of the country along the Rift Valley are still plagued by serious seasonal cases of the deadly disease.
“The measures put in place and the gains made need continued focus if we are to achieve our goals. It is through our collective efforts that we will surmount the challenges,” she said.
The CS said her ministry will work with counties and all other stakeholders in a bid to achieve universal health coverage which is part of the Jubilee administration’s Big Four agenda.
Counties will actively be involved in ongoing initiatives to improve healthcare including health insurance subsidy and the Linda mama programme.
Ms Kariuki said she believes such programmes will have a positive impact on malaria control.
Apart from allocating more resources, accurate and correct information on malaria is important to make sure that communities are able to respond and utilise malaria interventions in an appropriate manner.
“Our efforts are geared towards appropriate and sustainable behaviour change by engaging communities to participate fully in malaria control activities,” she said.
Whereas great strides have been made, diagnosis and treatment which are key elements in the fight against the disease have remained a major challenge in the country.
An estimated 216 million cases of malaria worldwide were reported in 2016, a majority of which were in sub-Saharan Africa.
Of those infected, 445,000 died with 16,000 of the deaths occurring in Kenya.
This translates to 1,219 lives lost every day, or nearly one a minute.
For children, malaria is a particularly devastating disease, with about 70 percent of those deaths involving children under five.
This is despite the fact that Kenya has adopted universal access to diagnosis and treatment services.
Ms Kariuki said all suspected malaria cases should be tested and those with positive results treated in accordance to the treatment guidelines.
To facilitate prompt diagnosis and treatment, the ministry has facilitated training of over 20,000 health workers in both the public and private hospitals over the last three years.
“To further ease the challenges of access to health services, the malaria control programme is implementing community case management through the community health structures in select high burden counties,” she said.
In 2017, the Ministry of Health distributed 14.8 million treated mosquito nets across 23 counties, Kisii included, to help in prevention of malaria.
This is in addition to nets routinely provided through maternal and child clinics as part of the efforts to protect pregnant women and children from contracting malaria.
At least 70 percent of the population continue to be at the risk of infection with pregnant women and children under five years being the most vulnerable groups.