From: joachim omolo ouko
News Dispatch with Father Omolo Beste
FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 2014
Today was World Malaria Day, a day that recognises the global efforts to control one of the world’s most deadly diseases. I led the opening prayer at St Mark’s Obambo Primary School, Kismu County where the Government of Kenya chose to celebrate it.
According to Principal Secretary Ministry of Health, Prof. Fred Segor, who represented the Health Cabinet Secretary, Mr James Macharia, Nyanza was chosen because, even though malaria deaths have reduced by 50 per cent across the country Nyanza and Western regions still lead in high prevalence.
He said the prevalence rate in Nyanza is still high because of the unique environment which favors breeding of mosquitoes. As a government, he said they want to put all mechanisms in place in Nyanza and Western to ensure that the prevalence rate comes down.
Currently the prevalence stands at 38 per cent which he described as alarming and must be tackled. He said the government’s initiatives such as distribution of nets and purchasing of malaria drugs, the mortality rate of children under the age of five has decreased by 44 per cent. The theme for this years’ malaria day is: Invest in the future: Defeat malaria.
A drama staged by Kanya Wegi drama group from Osiri and Obambo, many people are ignorant of malaria awareness, that is why instead of taking children to be checked of malaria they attribute disease to ‘juok’ ( witchcraft).
They usually consult witchcrafts who try to convince them that the disease has been caused by either one of the relatives or family members. In this case if malaria persists they take the child, or even grown up to churches that claim that they can heal all types of diseases through prayers. Like witchcrafts they will also tell you that the disease has been caused by a relative or family member.
There are also some families that believe that the disease has been caused by ‘juok wang’ (eye evil). They will try all means to make sure the sick is treated despite the fact that eventually the sick will up to die.
The integrated Kisumu campaign comes against a background of the resurgence of measles, another deadly disease in Kenya. In the last eight months, 42 children have died of measles. In addition, polio has made a re-appearance for the first time in 22 years.
Children and pregnant women are the worst affected by malaria, and over 80 percent of deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa among children under five. Around 40 percent of global malaria deaths occur in just two countries: Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Other countries that are badly affected include Zambia, Burkina Faso, and Sierra Leone where the government has identified malaria as an illness of high priority, and various organs of the government, including the Ministry of Health, are undertaking all efforts possible to reduce the incidence of malaria.
The good news is that the global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, reducing malaria mortality rates by 42 percent globally and 49 percent in Africa.
This is due to increased political good will and commitment to expand funding to help reduce malaria incidences. Yet still, malaria still kills an estimated 627 000 people every year, mainly children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa.
World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the World Health Assembly of 2007. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control.
Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in which severe cases can progress to coma or death. The signs of the disease begin eight to 25 days after infection, although symptoms can occur later in those who have taken preventative antimalarial medication. Symptoms can be flu-like, and include joint pain, vomiting, jaundice, convulsions and retinal damage.
The disease is normally diagnosed by the examination of blood using blood films or with antigen-based diagnostic tests. Transmission of malaria can be prevented with the use of mosquito nets and insect repellents. Although no vaccine exists yet, severe malaria is treated with quinine or artesunate and mefloquine.
Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578