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Even as we fight Covid-19, Let us Not Ease on the fight against Malaria

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Currently, the world is largely embroiled in one of the greatest health emergencies of our times, Coronavirus (COVID 19), an emergency that has so far caused immense disruption and suffering.

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The disease has affected over 2.5 million people and claimed the lives of over 160,000 globally as of the last count.

There is no doubt that this pandemic is testing the resilience of healthcare systems globally especially due to the ease in which it is spreading.

The situation is even direr in regions such as Sub-Sahara Africa where preventable diseases such as malaria still exert pressure to the healthcare systems.

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Malaria, which is a preventable and treatable disease is still one of the leading causes of death globally with the World Health Organization (WHO)estimating that half of the world population still lives at risk of the disease, which costs a child’s life every two minutes.

Data from the WHO report on the preventable disease in 2018 reveals that there were an estimated 228 million cases of malaria worldwide with 405,000 lives lost due to malaria.

Africa accounted for 94 per cent of global malaria deaths mostly because the majority of infections in Africa are caused by Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the four human malaria parasites.

The other reason is access to proper health care and medication.

Coronavirus is today putting more pressure on our national health systems and threatening to undo the great progress made over the years to combat the Malaria.

Between 2000 and 2018, malaria mortality rates in Africa fell by 66% among all age groups.

In Kenya, child mortality fell by about 8% annually, with infant mortality declining from 52 to 39 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2015.

The under-five mortality rate has also fallen during this period which has been positive in this fight.

These gains have largely been due to the concerted efforts by governments and international health partners through funding and awareness.

For example, the progress in the use of mosquito nets been impressive.

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WHO data shows that in 2000, just 2% of the 667 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa at that time slept under mosquito nets.

By 2017, more than half of Africa’s 1 billion people were using bed nets.

The rapid expansion in diagnostic testing and the availability of antimalarial medicines has also allowed many more people to benefit from timely and appropriate treatment of malaria.

Efforts to prevent malaria have also resulted in significant health care cost savings.

Sub-Saharan countries saved up to 900 million dollars on the costs of malaria case management between 2001 and 2017according to WHO World Malaria Report.

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) has been steadfast in the fight against Malaria, firstly, through the investment in the Mortein Doom insecticide products which are aimed at providing protection from mosquitos.

We have also led education campaigns in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and other partners to wipe out malaria in Kenya.

RB is working with communities to empower them in this fight. we believe that it is part of the company’s purpose to be actively involved in promoting the achievement of health-related goals in Kenya.

This said it is important to remind the world that it would be a great disaster if we were all to relax our efforts towards the Malaria fight.

It is of critical importance that efforts to detect, treat and most importantly prevent the disease are sustained even during this period when we are all involved in fighting Covid-19.

Prevention of malaria must, in fact, be of prime importance if the world is to contain this disease going forward.

During this time, ensuring the sustenance of core malaria prevention measures is an important strategy to reducing the strain on the healthcare systems brought about by the Coronavirus.

Such measures include sleeping under treated mosquito nets, insecticide spraying of residences and clearing our residences off stagnant water.

As populations are informed and educated on the means to prevent and contain the spread of the Coronavirus disease, similar sustained efforts must continue to raise awareness on malaria and increase the efforts in preventing and treating the disease.

It is important that we put extra emphasis on other diseases such as malaria.

Health experts have warned that those with pre-existing health conditions are at a higher risk of dying in case they contract Covid-19.

As the world marks World Malaria Day, it is important that continue with efforts against the fight of malaria even as we combat Coronavirus.

We must remain committed to supporting the prevention of malaria infection deaths through preventive measures.



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