Rwanda is currently experiencing a sudden rise in malaria infection cases, which health authorities say threatens the country’s previous efforts to rollback the epidemic.
Netsforlife, a charity that partners with African governments to the disease, says Malaria is a major killer in Africa, claiming more than half a million lives each year and 90% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.
Rwanda’s Ministry of health figures indicate that malaria infection cases increased by 68.6%, from 947,689 cases in 2013 to 1,598,076 in 2014.
Despite an increase in infection cases, the number of deaths from Malaria decreased to 352 in 2014 from 412 in 2013.
The health ministry attributed the increase in infections to substandard bed nets previously supplied, the laxity among the population to take preventative measures and climate changes.
Health Minister Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, blames malaria increase in Rwanda on global warming. She said climate change and rising temperatures favour mosquito growth, hence increasing the risk of catching malaria.
The country is responding to the rise in the cases though. The ministry of health has purchased 1,382050 treated mosquito nets to be distributed to 13 districts with malaria high prevalence.
The nets are being given freely to mothers with children below five years. Health Minister, Dr. Agnes Binagwah, says 83% of households own at least one long lasting treated mosquito net.
Dr. Corine Karema, the head of malaria division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre told KTPress that “One key challenge facing the malaria fight is the fact that the population thinks malaria is gone hence not using mosquito nets properly.”
Meanwhile, thousands of community health workers countrywide are now equipped with test kits and provide basic malaria first aid treatment.
Once they confirm cases that need immediate admission to health facilities. For example, says Claudine Wibabara, a mother whose three year old baby suffered from malaria recently, “if a child’s temperature measures beyond 35°C, the child is rushed to a healthy centre.”
In 2013, of the 81,484 cases diagnosed by community health workers, 78,026 (96%) were treated within 24 hours.
With $329m funding from Global Fund and other donors, the country is currently rolling out a plan to eliminate malaria deaths by 2018.