Yesterday was World Malaria Day, and the theme for the day this year is ‘reaching the zero-malaria target’. Is it possible to completely eradicate the menace that is Malaria? Yes. With the right players, right organizations, right tools and right Government involvement, it is possible to make malaria a thing of history.
Every World Malaria Day is usually a day to look back, evaluate policies and strategies that have been employed in the continuous fight against Malaria, and know what is working and what is not. Obviously, the policies and activities that are working get additional effort.
One thing we have to celebrate is the availability of a Malaria vaccine. This is a relatively new development and, from a press briefing I watched on TV, I was able to gather that the vaccine is already on roll out to children. It is given to them as part of their usual vaccination calendar.
This is a very big milestone that deserves all the celebration. After all, it is children who are most prone to Malaria since their immune systems are still developing. According to global statistics, Malaria kills around 415,000 kids before they are 5 years. That is a worrying number and we can only hope that the vaccination program is successful in the shortest time possible and safe.
There are some key lessons that Kenya has learned from countries that have eliminated Malaria. And by the way, here in Kenya, 70% of the population lives in high transmission areas for Malaria. Further, the whole 100% of us are at risk of contracting it. For this, we still have quite a distance to cover.
The lessons are one, adequate budgetary allocation towards the fight against Malaria, two, involvement of community. There are players in the private sector who are already allocating budgets for the fight against Malaria. Case in point, Reckitt who are the makers of Mortein Doom. Reckitt has had several initiatives over the years in partnership with Government to raise awareness about Malaria prevention in the country.
Government too would have to up their games in terms of budgetary allocation because a fight as huge as that against Malaria cannot be left to any one arm. Community involvement is key because the end user is the one who will get to use these interventions like nets. Everyone needs to play a part, including citizens who can also help in their own capacity.
What can you as an individual do? One of the most straight forward things is to clear pools and puddles in your area. After all these are the mosquito breeding grounds. Deny them that and they will not multiply as fast. Two is the use of treated mosquito nets and three, the use of indoor sprays and other intervention. Like my favourite is the Mortein Doom electric diffuser which is non-intrusive and quite effective.
As for mums, do everything within your power to keep your baby safe from Malaria. If you have ever been ill from it, you know how absolutely horrible it feels and we do not want our babies to be feeling horrible at any one time.