Kenya has become the fifth African country to establish an End Malaria Council.
The council is a public-private-community partnership established to support the control and elimination of malaria in Kenya.
The Council was established by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Health and will operate for three years.
Its members are senior leaders drawn from all sectors to champion the “Zero Malaria Starts with Me!” campaign and to remove barriers limiting the implementation of the Kenya Malaria Strategy (2019-2023).
“By promoting local manufacturing, we shall reduce reliance on foreign manufactured malaria supplies, ensure economic development as well as easy access and timely delivery of these essential commodities to the populations at risk of malaria.” Said Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during the unveiling Wednesday.
“We have a financial resource gap of Kenya Shillings 24 billion to fully implement our current Kenya Malaria Strategic Plan which covers the period 2019 to 2023.” Dr. George Githuka, Head of Division of National Malaria Program.
The council will be chaired by Christopher Getonga (Chair of the Council
Managing Director Mimosa Pharmaceuticals) with Dr Willis Akhwale (Secretary to the Council Senior Advisor African Leaders Malaria Alliance) serving as the Council Secretary.
Other members include, Patrick Quarcoo (Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Radio Africa Group), Managing Director Africa Cancer Federation Dorothy Nyong’o, Dr Beatrice Maingi (Director & Psychologist Nobility House), Eva Muthuri ( Member of the Country Coordinating Mechanism Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria), Issac Maluki (Chief Executive Officer Shona EPZ Limited),Dr Matilu Mwau (Deputy Director Kenya Medical Research Institute), Jacinta Wasike (Deputy Chief Pharmacist Pharmacy & Poisons Board), Joyce Momanyi ( Head of Health Head of COVID-19 Secretariat Council of Governors).
Mutahi also confirmed that the World Health Organization Report 2020 had recorded 215 million Malaria cases in Africa and 384,000 deaths in Africa in 2019.
“The President recently launched the use of malaria CRAB score which will aid health workers and community workers in identifying factors that could be responsible for increased number of cases,” he said
The acronym CRAB summarizes the most typical clinical manifestations of multiple myeloma, these being hypercalcemia, renal failure, anemia, and bone disease
The CS also admitted that the Coronavirus pandemic had greatly affected the fight against Malaria in the continent with the WHO predicting doubling of Malaria deaths in Africa at the onset of the pandemic because of disruptions in the health sector making it hard for people to access treatment.
“Although Kenya continues to experience public health and social economic impact as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic I am delighted to say that through commendable efforts by the government and its development partners this predicted doubling in Malaria deaths was averted,’ he added.
Speaking during the meeting CAS Dr. Mercy Mwangangi mentioned that the council was given the task of saving 36,000,000 lives in Kenya and therefore urged citizens to help the council in creating advocacy and awareness in the help to fight Malaria.
Fight against malaria on the African continent
Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta had appealed to the global community not to allow the fight against Covid-19 interfere with efforts to eradicate malaria, polio, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases in Africa.
The President said success stories and lessons from the global Covid-19 response should be harnessed and applied in the battle against these diseases to hasten their eradication.
“Even as we face current challenges (Covid-19), it shouldn’t be at the expense of pulling back on the progress that we have made in other areas such as malaria and polio,” the President cautioned.
The Head of State spoke at State House, Nairobi during the year’s End Malaria Annual Council meeting convened virtually by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The President, who is the current chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), reiterated that resource constraints brought about by Covid-19 risks rolling back the progress made in the fight against malaria.
“Covid-19 has had a huge impact in terms of where we’ve needed to focus government resources and in some cases at the expense of ongoing programs that have been having success,” President Kenyatta told the council that is chaired by American philanthropist Bill Gates.
He said the fight against malaria on the African continent was witnessing less interest from developed nations and multilateral partners as the countries and agencies redirect scarce resources to the more pressing Coronavirus pandemic
Going forward, the President urged African governments to apply information sharing and pooling of resources as seen during the continental Covid-19 response to the fight against malaria.
“By pulling together as a continent to fight the Covid-19 situation, we have found that we’re much better able to deal with the scenario through greater sharing of information but also of pooling resources…this is something that we’ve learnt from Covid-19 that we can translate into our malaria agenda,” he said.
The Head of State advocated for greater application of information technology in the fight against malaria saying digitization had greatly assisted the fight against Covid-19.
On the role of the private sector in the war against malaria, the President said businesses hold the greatest potential to fill the resource gap occasioned by Covid-19.
The Head of State lobbied for greater involvement of the youth in the anti-malaria war saying young people have the eagerness, stamina and innovativeness to sustain the fight.
“I believe they (the youth) can be a a great asset not only in terms of field outreach but also in terms of this being a way and a process of them to also earn a living,” President Kenyatta said.
Mr Gates said the ongoing global push for a Covid-19 vaccine had presented an opportunity for accelerating the search for HIV/AIDS and TB vaccines.
The American philanthropist who is also the co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation applauded Africa CDC saying its achievements in the fight against Covid-19 should be replicated in the anti-malaria war.
Nigerian billionaire businessman Aliko Dangote who also spoke during the meeting reiterated President Kenyatta’s call for greater participation of the private sector in the fight against malaria in Africa.