On this year’s World Malaria Day under the theme “Ready to beat Malaria”, Amref Health Africa in Kenya joins partners in reaffirming our commitment to working with the global malaria community towards the common goal of a world free of malaria.
Malaria remains one of the major public health problems worldwide and a major cause of illness and death. Sadly, the greatest burden of the disease is borne by the poorest and the most vulnerable members of society.
In Kenya, malaria accounts for about 18% of outpatient consultations and 5% of hospital admissions.
Prompt diagnosis and effective treatment are the cornerstones of malaria case management, with patients recovering rapidly if diagnosed and treated early. In fact, this is one of the objectives of the National Malaria Strategy 2009-2018: to have 100% of all suspected malaria cases managed by a health provider according to the National Malaria Treatment Guidelines.
Community Case Management of Malaria is based on the evidence that well-trained and supervised community health workers can provide prompt and adequate treatment and care to patients close to their homes within 24 hours. Since 2012, Amref Health Africa in Kenya has supported 7,350 CHVs in the malaria-endemic and epidemic-prone counties of the Lake region. Between 2015 and 2017, the community health workers were able to diagnose and treat approximately 420,540 cases of malaria at household level.
The work of community health workers has greatly contributed to the reduction of the workload at the health facilities by between 30-40 per cent. Their work has also increased access to and reduced costs of malaria diagnosis and treatment at the household level. In Kisii County, which is one of the epidemic counties, the 680 community health workers supported by the project have contributed to the monitoring of outbreaks of malaria. In the course of their work, the community health workers have also supported distribution and use of insecticide-treated nets at the household level. They have also improved referrals to health facilities for children under five and expectant mothers, who are most at-risk populations for malaria.
With evidence across the world pointing to the fact that most health issues can adequately be addressed at community level, on this World Malaria Day, Amref Health Africa calls for overall increased investment in malaria control activities across the country, and in particular prioritisation of community-based interventions incorporating community health workers and working with local health structures. We have come a long way and now, we are truly ready to beat malaria. Let us go ahead and do it.