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Kenya Warns Of Impending Malaria Outbreak - 2003-04-25

As Africa commemorates malaria day Friday, Kenya is warning of an impending outbreak of the killer disease in at least 20 districts.

(Opening scene: sounds of Bed nets promotion in Kiswahili)

Kitengela market twenty kilometers from Nairobi, where Ministry of health officials and the health non-governmental organization, Population Services International commemorated Africa Malaria day with a campaign on use of treated bed nets.

And the message here is that consistent use of bed nets treated with insecticide can reduce malaria related deaths by up to 30%.

Ms. Alice Njoroge is a clinical officer at Kitengela health center.

She says, "The main problem that usually patients present with is malaria. Malaria is the commonest problem with up to more than 40 patients presenting symptoms related to malaria daily."

Ms. Njoroge says Kitengaela area has a lot of stagnant pools of water, which form ideal breeding grounds for anopheles mosquitoes, which transmit the deadly disease.

According to the World Health Organization, Malaria kills over one million people every year. The world health body says the majority of these are women and children who live in 40% of malaria endemic regions in the world. WHO says 90% of malaria deaths occur in the African continent.

As Africa commemorates malaria day Friday, a day set a side to roll back the effects of Malaria in the continent, Kenya says 21 of its 53 districts risk a malaria outbreak due to the long rains expected to intensify from next month.

Dr. Richard Muga is Director of Medical services in Kenya. He says 30% of out patients treated in Kenyan hospitals, health centers and clinics suffer from malaria. And this strains the country's resources, he says.

He says, "The government spends 30% of the resources availed to the Ministry of Health to fight Malaria, in terms of human resources, in terms of equipment, in terms of drugs and that is a lot of the meager resources that we have."

Doctor Muga says the government is adopting multiple ways to combat malaria, including use of treated bed nets, use proper drugs and spraying of houses and places where mosquitoes breed with insecticide.

This year's Africa Malaria day comes amid divided opinion on the uses of DDT as a way of controlling malaria in Kenya. During a seminar in Nairobi two weeks ago some researchers argued that DDT should be re-introduced because the banned insecticide was successful in controlling mosquitoes in Africa. Others say the DDT ban should not be lifted because it is harmful to the environment.

Speaking at the malaria day events in Nairobi Friday Africa director of the World Health Organization Dr. Ibrahima Samba revealed that Malaria contributes 20 billion dollars worth of poverty in Africa. He says a lot of people in Africa cannot do productive work because they are sick with malaria. Instead, they burden national budgets when they seek treatment in public hospitals.