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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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The Church gets involved

Malaria control which has been the preserve of governments and non-governmental organisations, is bound to see more positive results with the entry of the church into the business of improving the lot of those who are susceptible to the disease.

The show of goodwill by faith-based organizations to fight the dreadful killer was felt in the Nyanza region, rated as the area with the highest number of malaria cases in Kenya.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK) has launched an initiative to spearhead the fight against malaria in Nyanza region.

The head of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Kenya, Archbishop Dr. Walter Obare, said the idea to start the initiative known as Lutheran Malaria Initiative was mooted during a meeting in the United States at the Church's Synod in Missouri State.

The word "Synod" in Greek means "walking together," and the term has a rich meaning within the Lutheran organisation because congregations voluntarily chooseto belong to the synod.

Archbishop Obare said during the meeting in the United States, it was agreed that a new initiative be started in order to help in the prevention and control of malaria in Kenya particularly in the Nyanza region.

Archbishop Obare said his church in collaboration with the Kenyan Ministry ofPublic Health, launched an 11-million Kenyan Shillings malaria programme to cover four districts in Nyanza region on a pilot basis.

The districts covered in the programme are Kisumu East, Nyamira, Rachuonyo North and South Districts where the malaria prevalence rates is said to be high. Archbishop Obare added that the new Lutheran Church Malaria Initiative has raised a concern with the spread of malaria among children under five years and expectant mothers despite a national mass distribution of bed nets to millions of households to control spread of the disease.

The church said it believes the distribution exercise failed to include sensitization and community participation in the exercise to guarantee effective usage of the nets before the programme was rolled out.

Archbishop Obare said there is the need for more community education on why it would be desirable for households to use insecticide treated nets.

"Doing so would not only enhance effective utilization of the nets but also ensure sustainability and ownership,” Obare noted.

He said myths about the usage of the nets are still a big impediment to the use of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) as a strategy to combat the disease in most parts of the country. “I therefore call on the government and other collaborators in this war of fighting malaria to first sensitize the people,” he said.

He lamented that some people have disliked using the nets claiming that they experience nightmares when they sleep under them. “These kinds of myths about the use of mosquito nets need to be demystified. You either use the nets or risk losing your children and expectant mothers are more vulnerable,'' he went on.

Some families in Nyanza have been seen using the government distributed nets for fishing while others use them to fence kitchen gardens.

A representative of the Division of Malaria Control in Nyanza, Peter Sirma, said although malaria was still posing a big challenge to government's efforts to enhance health care, some gains were being realized in some parts of the country even though the prevalence rate is still high in Nyanza region.

“This decline in some parts of the country can be attributed to the implementation of an eight year strategic plan targeted at eliminating malaria in the country, Sirma said.

He quoted the Kenya Malaria Indicator survey as saying malaria incidences in low land areas have fallen sharply.

He pointed out that the ministry is working to bring down the malaria burden and that a key objective in the plan is targeting prevention.

“This is why in 2010 the government embarked on mass universal net coverage where each household received at least two nets. In 2014 the government will conduct a similar distribution,” Sirma added.

During the large scale net distribution the ministry of public health also conducted indoor residual spraying in 13 districts of Nyanza. Sirma explained that the ministry in consultation with partners plans to expand coverage to other districts which were not covered in the initial phase and train communities on the existing tools to control malaria.

He disclosed that the government is currently working to improve diagnostic capacities of its laboratories in its health facilities country-wide to be able to diagnose all suspected malaria cases, treat and track them  The official said community health workers are also being trained on case management while rapid diagnostic kits are being provided. He further noted that 8 million kits have been procured to help in testing and treating malaria cases with surveillance being carried out on weekly basis to help monitor malaria trends in these areas.

The Lutheran World Relief of USA will fund the 11 million malaria project while its Kenyan partner, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya, will use Diakonia Compassionate Ministry (DMC) headed by Rev David Chuchu as the local implementing agency to do the project in the four districts on a pilot basis.

Apart from the funds to scale-up malaria intervention activities, the donors have also given out 8,200 nets to be distributed to the pilot districts.

The involvement of the church in malaria control is in response to the call by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership for all stakeholders to come together and fight against the killer of vulnerable women and children.

The Christian Aid charity has synergised with local stakeholders in some of the hardest-to -reach areas in Africa to tackle malaria. In Zambia, the charity collaborated with the local Anglican Church to reach remote communities like Lui River and Simulumbe, which are often forgotten by general malariaprevention initiatives.

In Sierra Leone, Christian Aid partnered 80 UK churches raising £500 each, to help run a lifesaving malaria control project, using broadcast media and crowd-pulling social events such as football matches, concerts and quizzes.

There is also NetsforLife, a partnership of faith-based organizations, corporations, foundations and non-governmental groups working together to fight malaria in Africa.

By Dickson Odhiambo – Kisumu, Kenya.

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