Rwanda’s Army has joined the fight against malaria that is increasingly claiming more people both in the country and in Africa.
The Military is currently engaging different players in the health sector to harmonise efforts against the killer disease. The Army is coming in to utilize its resources which includes, doctors, logistical muscle and the human resource distributed across the country.
The Ministry of Health is championing the campaign. A symposium was organised together with the military to define strategies and interventions that can be implemented at different levels of the health system.
The head of internal medicine at Rwanda Military Hospital, Lt. Col. Dr. Jules Kabahizi said at the symposium that the army is keen on contributing significantly to reduce malaria cases with a long term objective of eliminating the disease.
Health Minister Dr. Agnes Binagwaho said during a one-day Malaria symposium at Serena Hotel that, “am glad our army has joined the battle field. ”
“Malaria is a threat, malaria is a problem, and it’s not only for Rwanda alone but for the whole region and it is affecting even the economies,” she said.
According to Binagwaho, Rwanda had pushed malaria to the edge and “we had started the elimination phase but it’s increased ten times more.”
Statistics from the ministry of health indicate the country has managed to reduce incidence of malaria by 86%, Mobility by malaria by 87% while mortality was reduced by 74%.
Dr. Binagwaho said that mosquitoes are now able to fly between 4 to 22 kilometers a day and survive to up to a month and are able to fly higher altitudes. This implies they can now easily fly across borders.
“Now they have leant to fly high because of global warming, it’s no longer cold up there and in less than a month they can cover the country,” she noted.
The movement of mosquitoes facilitated by several factors makes it difficult for one country to lay strategies to eliminate Malaria and thus suggests joint strategies for regional governments.
Malaria experts said drug-resistant malaria is not spreading across eastern region, but is developing independently in isolated pockets.
For Dr. Binagwaho with this new knowledge on drug-resistant malaria, there is need for regional member states to collaborate on a new strategy for combating the potentially fatal parasite.
Prof Zulu Prenji, chair-pathology in Aga Khan university Hospital told KTPress that Malaria fight needs political support. He explained that in countries where there are problems such as corruption, the fight becomes challenged.
Dr. Olushayo Olu, World Health Organisation Representative in Rwanda says despite remarkable increase in malaria cases, countries still have room to eliminate Malaria deaths through early detection and prevention.
Meanwhile, in a rare breakthrough, an international team of scientists has discovered that a mutation that makes parasites resistant to a key anti-malarial drug winds up killing them.
“The resistant parasites die before they can infect another person,” said Christopher D. Goodman of the University of Melbourne, a member of the research team.