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Kenya’s Ongoing Battle with Malaria: Progress, Challenges, and Strategies

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

Malaria remains a significant public health challenge in Kenya, with Turkana, Kisumu, Migori, and Siaya counties topping the list in malaria prevalence, as revealed during a media briefing ahead of World Malaria Day. Despite strides made in the past decade, including significant reductions in malaria prevalence rates, challenges persist, including inadequate funding for eradication efforts.

The Ministry of Health lauded Homabay County for its commendable reduction in malaria prevalence from 38% to 3%. However, the Ministry emphasized the critical need for sufficient funding to fully implement malaria prevention, control, and elimination strategies. Currently, there is a substantial resource gap, standing at 50% of the required resources outlined in the Kenya Malaria Strategic Plan.

Over the years, Kenya has demonstrated a strong commitment to eradicating malaria, as outlined in the Kenya Malaria Strategy (KMS) 2019-2023. The objectives of the strategy include reducing the burden of malaria in the country and contributing to the global goal of eliminating malaria by 2030. Key focus areas encompass protecting at-risk populations, managing malaria cases, increasing intervention utilization, and strengthening surveillance.

One of the crucial interventions in the fight against malaria is the distribution of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs). The Ministry of Health is distributing 18.3 million LLINs in 28 targeted counties to ensure households in malaria-risk areas have adequate protection. These efforts underscore the importance of collaboration among government entities, partners, civil society, and communities in delivering strategic interventions.

However, despite progress, malaria remains a significant threat to public health in Kenya. Dr. David Khaoya, Country Director of PROPEL Kenya, emphasized the need for rapid scale-up of funding and interventions to prevent more deaths. While there has been a reduction in malaria mortality and morbidity, three-quarters of the population remain at risk of the disease.

Challenges identified by the National Malaria Control Programme include gaps in coverage of prevention and treatment services, limited financing, and uptake of available malaria prevention and treatment. Additionally, emerging threats such as insecticide and drug resistance pose significant challenges to malaria control efforts.

Moving forward, concerted efforts are needed to address these challenges and accelerate progress in malaria eradication. This includes increasing funding for malaria control programs, strengthening surveillance and response mechanisms, and enhancing community engagement and awareness. By prioritizing these efforts and leveraging partnerships, Kenya can continue its journey towards a malaria-free future, ensuring the health and well-being of its population for generations to come.

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