Monday, 25 May 2015

We need to sustain the fight against malaria following the death of 7 children within twenty four hours in Western Kenya


The 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, released in April this year, reports that Acute respiratory infection (ARI), malaria, and dehydration caused by severe diarrhoea are major causes of child morbidity and mortality in Kenya. 
  
The report further recommended that: 

Prompt and effective treatment for malaria is crucial to prevent the disease from becoming severe and complicated.

The death of 7 children from malaria endemic, at Kakamega General Hospital, Kakamega County on Sunday in a span of 24 hours is shocking.

It is with grief that the County Government of Kakamega announces the sudden death of 7 children from malaria endemic,...
Posted by County Government of Kakamega on Sunday, May 24, 2015
“The 7 children were brought while in critical condition and some were anemic. 2 died during the day on admission while the other 5 died in the evening while receiving blood transfusion.”

I have lived and worked in at least four counties (Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia) that make up the former Western Province.

The fight against malaria in Western Kenya has been an ongoing campaign because most of it is an endemic region (occurs throughout).
Although malaria is easily preventable, millions of Kenyans suffer from it every year.
In 2013, the malaria prevalence rate had reduced to 38pc in Kakamega County according to Dr. Maurice Nyongesa Wakwabubi citing aggressive sensitization campaigns on the use of treated mosquitoes.

In Bungoma County, Dr. Maurice Nyongesa Wakwabubi, the infection rate within Bungoma was at 33pc the same year. 

Internews organization reported that in general, Kenya is not winning the fight against malaria.
Compromising the fight against malaria are factors such as poor knowledge of the disease and the lack of diagnostic equipment in health facilities. Also: people are not taking preventive measures seriously - such as sleeping under insecticide treated nets. Many women are also not taking antimalarial drugs during pregnancy.

The world Health Organisation in marking the  World Malaria Day 2015, called for high-level commitment to the vision of a world free of malaria. The theme, set by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, is Invest in the future: Defeat malaria.

With a strategy the aims to reduce malaria cases and deaths by 90% by 2030 from current levels, WHO noted that:
 “Effective tools to prevent and treat malaria already exist, but more funds are urgently required to make them available to the people who need them and to combat emerging drug and insecticide resistance.”

The East African, in its article, “Malaria burden high in western Kenya”, Data collected by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) in collaboration with the Atlanta, Us-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2013 shows that the number of people carrying parasites in their blood is still 35 per cent in children below five, 56 per cent in those aged five and 15 and 22 per cent in those above 15. 

Subsequently, with calls for more funding to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 6, 4 and 5(MDG) target of halting and reversing the incidence of malaria.

How can it be sustained?
The malaria parasite infects healthy red blood cells, where it reproduces. The P. falciparum parasite generates a family of molecules, known as PfEMP1, that are inserted into the surface of the infected red blood cells. The cells become sticky and adhere to the walls of blood vessels in tissues such as the brain. This prevents the cells being flushed through the spleen, where the parasites would be destroyed by the body's immune system, but also restricts blood supply to vital organs.

Symptoms can differ greatly between young and older children depending on previous exposure to the parasite. In young children, the disease can be extremely serious and potentially fatal if untreated; older children and adults who have grown up in endemic areas are resistant to severe malaria but rarely develop the ability to rid their bodies of the parasite.

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