Bad drugs hurting Kenya malaria fight

June 30, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – A new survey by the Ministry of Public Health shows that 54 percent of children under the age of five years have received non-recommended anti-malarial medication.

Dr Rebecca Kiptui of the Division of Malaria Control said on Tuesday that the new Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey showed that only 29 percent of children received the recommended ACT drug.

She said, according to the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses guidelines, that all children below five years with fever should be given presumptive malaria treatment with ACT.

“The results show that 35 percent of children took Amodioquine as an anti malarial, 11 percent of feverish children took SP and eight percent took Chloroquine, which has not been recommended for the past 10 years,” she said.

The Head, Division of Malaria Control, Dr Elizabeth Juma said the survey which was conducted in 2007 targeted children below five years because they were the most vulnerable to malaria.

“But we really need to enforce and continue to encourage people to use ACTs for treatment of malaria,” Dr Juma appealed.

“They have been shown to be effective and they also help to reduce the disease burden by reducing transmission,” she added.

Dr Juma said that the Ministry was working together with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board to try and reduce the availability of the non-recommended treatment for malaria in the market.

The report further indicated that at least 61 percent of Kenyan children do not sleep under Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN’S), which are recommended for preventing malaria spread.

The first ever Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey showed that although 51 percent of children slept under a net, only 39 percent slept under ITN’s.

Dr Juma said that there was now need to redouble efforts to promote the use of bed nets, increase their availability and ownership.

“Particularly the ITN’s which even if you buy from the supermarket, there is always a little tablet incorporated in the ordinary nets to enable their treatment,” she said.

“And there are various distribution channels for these nets, the clinic programme, and of course the subsidised Sh50 nets are available for use by the general public,” she added.

The report also indicated that 6.9 percent of children in urban areas suffered severe anaemia due to malaria, compared to 4.1 percent in rural areas.

“There was no difference in the prevalence of severe anaemia among children under five between those ones who had used the ITN’s and those who did not use them,” said Dr Kiptui.

“Most of the Abuja targets by 2006 were supposed to be at 60 percent of ITN use for children under five so you can see how below par we are,” she added.

The survey was conducted between July and August 2007 to measure progress toward achieving the goals and targets set in the Kenya National Malaria Strategy 2001-2010.

The data was collected in 63 districts with the exception of Nairobi, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Meru Central and Laikipia districts.

“This is because they are low prevalence areas,” said the Head of Division of Malaria Control.

The delay in releasing the report was blamed on the post 2007 election crisis.


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