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Health ministry scaling up malaria vaccines in lake Region

The Ministry of Health, is urging parents and guardians to take their children aged 6 months old to health facilities that are providing malaria vaccine to have them vaccinated against the killer disease.

The Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of Health Dr Rashid Aman, said that the Ministry was scaling up malaria vaccines especially in eight counties in the endemic Lake region.

Speaking at Bukhungu Stadium, in Kakamega County Monday, during the marking of the World malaria day, Dr Aman said the region reported a total of 3.2 million confirmed malaria cases, representing 75 percent malaria cases nationally.

He said Kenya is one of the pioneer African countries to adopt the use of the vaccine which has since been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for use across the continent.

Dr. Aman said the government has also diversified preventive measures to ensure that malaria is tackled through various interventions, such as the Kenya-Cuba Malaria Vector Control Project that was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Kilifi County last year.

“Cuba eliminated malaria in 1973 mainly through the control of the mosquito by spraying their breeding sites, that is the stagnant water with larvicides,” he said.

“Cuban experts have been deployed to all the eight Lake endemic counties and will work with our health teams for two years within which they will transfer their skills to our malaria control experts,” he noted.

“Larviciding will go a long way in accelerating our efforts towards malaria elimination in this region and Kenya,” he added.

Dr Aman also cited the launching of the Busia malaria cross-border collaboration initiatives, under the Great Lakes Malaria Initiative (GLMI) banner, to increase coordination and engagement of malaria through Regional Economic Communities.

He said the initiative, is being spearheaded by the current Chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He revealed that the National Treasury, had allocated a further Sh800 million to the Ministry of Health to boost the fight against malaria and in 2021, the national government in partnership with the county government, distributed 16 million insecticidal nets, targeting vulnerable pregnant women and children.

“Kakamega County is one of the three counties that received and distributed the latest technology nets – PBO Pyrethroid nets, in response to the emerging resistance by mosquitoes to pyrethroid only nets,” said Dr Amman.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said that, due to increased surveillance in the

County, malaria prevalence had dropped from 38 percent in 2015 to 15.2 percent in 2020, according to the Kenya Malaria indicator survey.

In a speech read on his behalf by Executive Member for Public Service and County administration Raychelle Okumu, Oparanya said the county distributed 1.3 million mosquito nets without support from United States of Agency for International Development (USAID), Global Fund Malaria and Presidents’ Malaria Initiative (PMI)

Kakamega Women Representative Elsie Muhanda, cautioned residents against using mosquito nets for unintended purposes like fencing of the farms, saying this was negating the fight against the disease.

By George Kaiga

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