Saturday, February 4, 2012

Progress in Rwanda's Fight Against Malaria

On Monday, 30 January, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) presented to our President, His Excellency Paul Kagame, with a 2012 ALMA Award for Excellence in recognition of Rwanda’s tremendous progress in malaria control. 

This is truly a well-deserved honor, as he has supported the Ministry of Health and its partners across the public sector, civil society, and the international community  in achieving a 70% decrease in malaria incidence and a 60% decrease in malaria mortality between 2005 and 2010. These dramatic results are the latest data from the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey (which will be publically available online next month). 

Last week, I had the great pleasure of launching a new malaria control campaign in Nyagatare District, which alone accounts for 40.4% of malaria incidence across the whole of Rwanda. A cross-sectorial approach to increasing utilization of insecticide-treated bed nets and clearing areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed will help to dramatically reduce this unacceptable figure in the next three months and contribute to the Government’s goal of eliminating malaria within national borders by 2015.

I offer my deepest heartfelt congratulations to all those who have contributed to this success, from His Excellency to the health workers at the community level. Let us all take this opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the fight against malaria and for a Rwanda where no one dies needlessly of preventable and treatable diseases.

Now we must explore sustainable approaches to eliminating malaria as a public health priority. For this to occur, we must have factories manufacturing long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets and appropriate anti-malarial drugs. We will also need to strengthen cross-border collaborations, including the improvement of anti-counterfeit drug activities and the harmonization of prevention and treatment strategies across the region. When we have achieved our goals, Rwanda’s children will have peaceful nights and parents will not fear when they hear the “bzzzzz” noise coming across the room, for it will not be a mosquito but rather a simple fly suffering from insomnia.

(Image courtesy of Rwanda News Agency)