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.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Save the fallen trees in Cameroon

Fresh tree cuts for agriculture and wood in Nkongsamba, West region of Cameroon

“International bodies and decision makers should also be looking at ways of getting those responsible for deforestation answerable for their action while looking to compensate those who are remedying- the polluters should pay the conservationists”

Although the deforestation rate in the Congo basin has reduced to 0.3 per cent annual forest loss, in 2013. Cameroon and countries of the forest zone have a lot of reforestation progress to make, since the rainforest has lost more than 60% of its elephant population, which are considered by Blake and Campos-Arceiz, (authors of a paper on African and Asian elephant seed dispersal in Acta Oecologica) as, “the ultimate seed dispersers”. However, unveiled, agriculture as the major drive to deforestation in a special dossier centred on the Congo basin in 2013.

Today, Cameroon cannot afford the luxury to count on elephants and other wild animals for tree spreading and planting as was the case in the past. Reports from the World Traffic Fund, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Traffic and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) say more than 1000 of these precious mammals were poached in the country between 2008 and 2013.

Cameroon, now have to rely on the population, forest activists or NGOs to save the fallen trees. The country needs people, who are conscious of the dangers of deforestation and the utilities of the forest to the people and to our planet, earth and are doing something to solve this problem. Cameroon need leaders with strong will and drive for conservation and reforestation.

Masango Sone is the CEO and founder of Green Cameroon. Since 2003, his organization has championed a reforestation movement and has been promoting green-sustainable practices in schools and poor communities in Cameroon.

Last week, in a phone and a mail interview with Mr Sone, he told us his organisation “have planted more than 5000 trees in communities, schools and other deforested lands” and has succeeded to reach 5000 youths in schools with environmental outreach campaigns.

Masango SoneGreen Cameroon knows planting a tree is not enough; but enabling farmers to benefit something from them can make the activity interesting and sustainable. The organisation has been helping farmers in different ways and in many localities in Cameroon. Peter Ngwe Ekan is a farmer in Buea, capital city of the South West region of Cameroon. 

He revealed to Supreme Master Television, an international, non-profit channel airing constructive news, Mr Sone’s organisation provided him “with seedlings for banana trees…, and seedlings for …live fence to protect my crops. Previously, I didn't have anything in the garden until they (Green Cameroon) provided me with the seeds for the bananas. So after planting them, I have been harvesting and the crops are doing really well. I am really grateful to them.” He added.

Also, Mr Sone disclosed, besides having the difficulty to “Keep the trees alive after the planting exercise, persuading community members to accept some trees to be planted in their communities, and finding funding for most of our planting programmes” his  non-profit environmental organisation does “not receive any support whatsoever from the government”. He noted.

However, the founder of Green Cameroon thinks apart from encouraging tree planting,   international bodies and decision makers should “also be looking at ways of getting those responsible for deforestation answerable for their action while looking to compensate those who are remedying it. I am trying to say the polluters should pay the conservationists.” He explained. 

Written by Israel Bionyi