Even as Kenya boasted of having recorded reduced cases of Malaria infections during this year’s world Malaria day, the disease, it now emerges, still remains a major problem affecting both children and adults in many sections of the country.
Analysis done by Baraka FM in several counties in the country, have revealed that the disease, once touted as the number one killer especially of infants, could as well be on its way back to the top of the chart.
Away in the Western region, Bungoma County within Sirisia constituency, statistics at Malakisi Health Centre reveal that Malaria is the highest recorded disease among all other diseases.
Maximillah Nangekhe, mother to four-year old daughter Rose Nafula, sits on a bench at the health centre, holding the baby, worried after the doctor’s diagnosis that Nafula is ailing from Malaria.
She says that for the past three months the daughter has been experiencing frequent infections with symptoms that are synonymous with malaria, including vomiting, shivering and loss of appetite, until this day when the diagnosis confirms her fears.
“The health of my daughter is deteriorating gradually she has been sickly of late. I don’t know how she was infected because we all sleep under treated mosquito nets, and the surrounding of our house is clean,” Nangekhe says, clutching her frail-looking baby in her arms.
Anthony Waswa, a clinical officer in charge of the Health Centre says the increase in Malaria in the area might be caused by climate change, which he says has led to a change in weather patterns in the area.
But Godfrey Wayong’o, the public health officer in charge of Malakisi Division blames some of the locals for what he says is selling mosquito nets, or deliberately refusing to use them for protection against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
“Though we have advised them to sleep under treated mosquito nets all the time, some of them have ignored our advice,” Wayong’o says, adding that there has still been a notable reduction in Malaria cases at the hospital.
A chart hanging on one of the walls at the hospital shows Malaria as having been the leading disease recorded with five-year old children at the hospital in 2013.
It is followed by respiratory, skin and diarrhoea-related infections.
A survey carried out by Internews revealed that malaria is responsible for one third of outpatient consultations in Kenyan hospitals.
It also revealed that three out of four Kenyans are at a risk of contracting the disease, with 28 million Kenyans living in areas where there is a risk of contracting it.
20 percent of deaths of children under the age of five years are caused by malaria, the report says, explaining that the fight against the disease has been compromised by among other factors, poor knowledge and lack of adequate diagnostic equipment in local health facilities
According to the World Health Organisation, 3000 children under the age of five years die in Kenya yearly from Malaria, raising the concern that perhaps it is time the energy and vigour that once characterised the fight against the disease in the country, was brought back.
Only then will baby Nafula, and others in her situation, be free from the killer but treatable disease.