Malaria prevalence still high in Kagera

KAGERA: MALARIA prevalence in Kagera Region is still high, thus the authorities have called for joint efforts to ensure that the disease is totally eliminated.

The National Director for “Shinda Malaria” Programe, Dr Dunstan Bishanga was recently quoted, saying that a recent survey indicated that out of   every 100 persons in the region at least 18 of them had malaria.

“In spite of great efforts taken by the government to eliminate the disease, Kagera Region was among three regions with high prevalence of malaria,” he said.

Elaborating, he said during 2019 the region had recorded 580,000 malaria cases while during 2022 the number had slightly dropped to 250,000 cases.

Dr Bishanga made the remarks recently in Bukoba Municipality where he handed various medical kits worth 60m/- to 38 Community Health Workers (CHW) from Karagwe and Kyerwa districts.

Kagera Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), Mr Toba Nguvila, on behalf of the Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Ms Fatma Mwassa, thanked the institution for the support, while also appealing to the residents to employ an integrated approach to eliminate the disease.

“Joint efforts are needed to reduce malaria by employing an integrated approach including prevention through mosquito nets use and indoor residual spraying, prevention of malaria in pregnancy, prompt diagnosis, promotion of positive behaviours for malaria prevention and correct treatment,” he said.

Elaborating, Mr Nguvila said the government is keen to ensure that more lives are saved through improved health delivery and construction of health facilities, including dispensaries in rural areas where most Tanzanians lived.

Records indicate that about 17,506 patients were admitted to various health institutions in Kagera Region during 2010 due to malaria, resulting in 242 deaths. Out of the number, 80 per cent were children under five years and pregnant women.

Records also indicate that on the first day of the outbreak on May 25th, 2013 about 16 deaths were recorded in Muleba District’s Rubya Designated hospital (DDH), mainly because most infants arrived at the hospital late.

In Tanzania, more than 80 per cent malaria cases are linked to infection with Plasmodium falciparum. The species is dangerous on pregnant women as it typically invades large numbers of erythrocytes, causing severe anaemia, which is crucial in pregnancy.

In endemic areas, malaria in pregnancy is often asymptomatic, especially in cases of primigravidae. Additionally, the parasite may be undetectable in peripheral blood smears, causing the delay in disease treatment.

Malaria is a leading cause of death for children aged under five years and pregnant women as well as a major cause of maternal mortality. It is still a leading killer disease claiming almost 700,000 lives in Africa annually. Out of the   number, 595, 000 of them were young children (WHO).

Data shows that lack of affordable, quality health care continues to trap many in poverty. Globally, as many as 100 million people a year are pushed into poverty due to high health care costs and about 30 per cent of households in Africa and Asia have to borrow money or sell assets to pay for health.

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