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Rwanda Embarks on Malaria Prevention Drive Among High Risk Persons

by Daniel Sabiiti
6:12 pm

At student at GS St Joseph Kabgayi attends to her bed which is covered with a mosquito net.

The ministry of health has embarked on the distribution of free mosquito nets in schools under a three-year distribution program aimed at reducing the numbers of students getting infected with the parasite.

Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) research findings, show that boarding students, medics, security guards, fishermen and bar goers, are among the most vulnerable to catching malaria due to the fact that they are not at home and spend long night hours outside.

To curb the risks, the institution says it has delivered 236,522 mosquito nets to all 480 boarding schools (public and private institutions) in the country from December 2022 to December 2023.

RBC says that good practices such as: sleeping in a mosquito net, using mosquito repellents, locking the house properly at night, cleaning bushes and stagnant water around homes have contributed to the reduction of malaria in the last five years from about 5-6 million people infected up to 500- 600,000 in 2023.

Epaphrodite Habanabakike, a Malaria Prevention Senior Officer at RBC says that at the beginning of the third semester, all schools will have bed mosquito nets distributed for free.

“Boarding schools all over the country have received the bed mosquito nets, we hope that all the students who are boarding at the school will receive them,” he said during a media briefing this week to highlight Rwanda’s progress in eradicating malaria ahead of World Malaria Day 2024.

Habanabakike said that the free distribution is to relieve the families of the burden of buying mosquito nets as seen previously where boarding students used to take the mosquitoes away from their homes, leaving their parents and children at risk of contracting Malaria.

Brother Innocent Akimana, the GS St Joseph Kabgayi Head Teacher.

At one of the benefiting schools, GS St Joseph Kabgayi student’s beds in dormitories are visibly seen covered with mosquito nets and while the hardest battle is to encourage students to use the nets, the school administration stated that there has been a significant drop in infections.

“Most of the students come from their homes with malaria, but we have an equipped clinic to treat them, and by enforcing use of nets, we have seen a reduction in cases of malaria to only five or less a semester,” said Brother Innocent Akimana the Head Teacher.

Ornella Igiraneza, a student in Senior 5, says that students should be monitored on a daily basis because there are some who do not like to spend the night in mosquito nets due to social perception that the insecticidal nets make them sick.

To encourage best practices and behavioral change, participants at the upcoming World Malaria Day 2024 and 8th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) to be held in Kigali, held a car free day exercise and mass mobilization session to educate citizens on the need to take the first personal steps in preventing malaria.

The 8th MIM conference will be held under the theme, ‘Grassroots mobilization to end malaria: invest, innovate and integrate’.

Health Minister, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana said that the government is focusing on availing repellents for people who spend hours outside at night and at a high risk of infection.

Nsanzimana said that the car free day malaria campaign was brought to Kigali to highlight the conference agenda but also the need for behavioral change in the city which currently has many cases of persons at risk of catching malaria.

Rwanda plans to eradicate Malaria in Rwanda by 2030 and officials have encouraged partners in health, like- Society for Family Health (SFH) and Agropy, to avail mosquito repellants to persons at a high risk of catching malaria but also encourage such categories to buy mosquito repellants to use while they are outside at night.

The National Strategic Plan 2020-2024 goal is to reduce malaria morbidity by at least 50% of the 2019 levels (264 deaths), and currently deaths stand at 51 cases with a Case Fatality Rate at 6.4.

The plan’s objectives are to have at least 85% of the population at risk to be effectively protected with prevention interventions and to have correct and consistent practices and behaviors towards malaria control interventions.

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