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Campaign against malaria in Kagera makes headway

MALARIA prevalence in Kagera Region has been reduced considerably, from 42 per cent recorded during 2007 to 8.8 per cent this year. However, more efforts were still needed to ensure that malaria is completely eliminated.

At least 1,435,277 Insecticide- Treated Nets (ITN), were distributed to Kagera residents in effort to control malaria while about 90,670 ITN were also distributed to pregnant women while 231,267 nets were distributed to students.

In spite of the achievement, Biharamulo District still had highest malaria prevalence rate with 45 percent, Ngara District followed with 41 percent while Muleba district had 40 per cent.

Bukoba Municipal Council recorded the lowest malaria prevalence rate with three percent while Missenyi District recorded 11 per cent. Out of 1,435,277 patients who tested for malaria at least 501,528 patients proved malaria positive, implying 35 per cent.

Kagera Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Marco Mbata cited concerted efforts they mounted in the region including indoor residual spraying (IRS), and use of insecticide treated nets (ITN), and polio jabs to infants.

Joint efforts were also needed in fighting malnutrition among children. We have to ensure that all children are free from malnutrition. The region is rich with fertile soils and plenty of food.

There is no reason why children should suffer from malnutrition. A recent survey indicated that almost 41.7 per cent of children in Kagera Region are suffering from malnutrition.

The survey also indicates that the rate of stunting stands at 34.7 per cent, underweight at 13.4 per cent, wasting at 3.8 per cent, anemia among children at 59 per cent, Vitamin A Deficiency stood at 33 per cent, anemia among pregnant women stood at 53 per cent while Low Birth Weight (LBW), stands at seven per cent.

Kagera Regional Nutrition Development Officer, Yusuf Hamis said a national survey conducted last year revealed that Kagera Region was on topped ten regions in Mainland Tanzania, where malnutrition stood at 41.7 per cent among children aged below five years while the national average stood at 34 per cent.

Other regions include Dodoma, Mwanza, Kigoma, Mbeya, Dar es Salaam, Geita, Tabora, Ruvuma and Lindi. Investing in nutrition is essential for Tanzania to progress.

It is estimated that the country will lose US$20 billion by 2025 if the nutrition situation does not improve. In contrast, by investing in nutrition and improving the population’s nutritional status, the country could gain up to US$4.7 billion by 2025.

Mr Gaguti observed that thereare few people who are ignorant and opposed the exercise of their houses being sprayed. Indoor spraying can control malaria by 90 per cent and eliminate malaria that is still a leading killer disease.

In most malaria-affected countries, sleeping under an Insecticide-Treated Net (ITN), is the most common and most effective way to prevent infection. In 2016, an estimated 54 percent of people at risk of malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa slept under an ITN compared to 30 percent in 2010.

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.

More efforts were needed to reduce malaria by employing an integrated approach including prevention through mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying.

Prevention of malaria in pregnancy, prompt diagnosis and correct treatment, strengthened malaria surveillance. Improved human resources and promotion of positive behaviors for malaria prevention.

Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases, particularly in Africa. Malaria 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. Maternal mortality rate (MMR), is the annual number of female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes).

The MMR includes deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, for a specified year. Millennium Development Goal (MDG), 5 calls for the reduction of maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.

It has been a challenge to assess the extent of progress due to the lack of reliable and accurate maternal mortality data–particularly in developing-country settings where maternal mortality is high.

Better health of a population is central to the development of a nation since a healthy population lives longer and is more productive and contributing more to a nation’s economy.

Effective public health system from the grassroots level are important in providing care for the sick and putting in place measures that promote preventive services of diseases.

Malaria cost African governments over 12 billion us dollars each year while in every minute a child dies due to malaria. Women and children carry a heavy disease burden mostly from preventable diseases.

The media can play a crucial role in altering social behavior and perpetuating sex and gender stereo types. People should get right information on how to avoid contracting malaria including use of long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs), how to access treatment, importance of Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) and use of Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT).

Rural women, in particular, have continued to suffer debilitating poverty occasioned by retrogressive cultural practices and the politics of marginalization.

The only source of financial freedom for rural women is productive agricultural enterprises, which unfortunately have not been strengthened enough to erase the circle of poverty.

This is despite the fact that rural women contribute immensely to agriculture and rural enterprises, fueling local and global economies. They are active players to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Yet, every day around the world, rural women and girls face insurmountable constraints from the prevailing social, economic and political order.

Approximately 830 women in most developing nations die from preventable causes during pregnancy or childbirth every day.

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Author: MEDDY MULISA in Bukoba

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