Kenya, Ghana and Malawi selected to take part in WHO Malaria Vaccine programme

Nairobi, Kenya, April 18, 2018 – Kenya has been selected alongside Ghana and Malawi to take part in the World Health Organization – led pilot programme for the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine.

The activities are scheduled to start later this year and the outcome is expected to inform in-country policy said the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Sicily Karuiki in a speech read by Dr. Patrick Amoth, Head of Directorate of Health Sector Coordination and Intergovernmental Affairs, during the pre-World Malaria Day 2018 media briefing breakfast in Nairobi.

The CS revealed that that this year, the Ministry of Health will oversee the development of a new Malaria Strategy that build on the gains made so far and also align the strategy to the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda.

The move comes in the wake of significant strides in combating malaria in the country with the overall prevalence of the disease dropping from 11% in 2010 to 8% currently. The proportion of out-patient visits attributable to malaria has also reduced from 30% during the same period.

The CS attributed the drop to implementation of interventions recommended in the Malaria Strategy 2014-2018 namely vector control, prevention of Malaria in pregnancy by provision of intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp), malaria case management, diagnosis and treatment, advocacy, communication and social mobilization.

However, she observed that despite the gains made, a lot more still needs to be done in the fight against malaria. She observed that although the strategy aims to have 80% of populations at risk of malaria to use appropriate interventions such as bed nets, the target is so far at 52%.  Likewise, only 39% of children can receive rapid malaria diagnostic test and prompt treatment.

Currently the CS said 70% of the Kenyan population is at risk of malaria with pregnant women and children below the age of 5 years being most vulnerable. Malaria also accounts for about 18% of all out-patient visits to health facilities and 6 % of admissions. “Rural and poor populations bear a heavier burden of malaria compared to the wealthier and urban populations,” she said.

In 2017, the Ministry of Health distributed a total of 14.8 million treated bed nets to communities across 23 malaria endemic and epidemic prone counties providing protection to 25 million people. The Ministry in collaboration with partners is also implementing other malaria control interventions, which include the Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) in Migori and Homabay with plans to expand this to Kisumu from 2019.

The Government she said is currently in talks with the Cuban Government on the implementation of vector control in Kenya through larviciding i.e. killing of mosquito larvae through spraying with insecticide, targeting eight Lakeside endemic counties.

“We believe that the combined interventions and strategies will provide additional protection to communities and bring down the overall disease burden and assist the country in achieving the global target of reducing and eliminating malaria,”  she noted.