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Sharon Omota (in black tshirt) of Zipline Limited explaining how the drone is being used to deliver critical drugs to various facilities in their area of operation during the World Malaria Day. Photo: Arnold Ageta

Arnold Ageta

Innovation and prevention took centre stage in the fight against malaria during this year’s world malaria day commemoration held at Ekerenyo, in Nyamira County.

World Health Organization (WHO) pledged to support the country in fight against malaria by providing technical support.

Speaking at the event, WHO country representative Dr. Abdurrahmane Diallo observed that Kenya has made significant steps in fighting malaria.

‘‘As WHO we have worked and continue to work with the ministry of health to offer technical support through guidance for development to stop the spread of malaria in Africa,’’ said Dr. Diallo.

Dr. Diallo said that in 2021 the world recorded 247 million new cases of malaria and of those, 619 thousand died of malaria.

‘‘Africa continues to bear the blunt of the impact of malaria disease on children and pregnant women causing morbidity and mortality  among those affected according to WHO malaria report 2022,’’ he regretted.

He however applauded the commendable achievement Kenya has made over the years some of them being malaria prevalence rate that has been reduced from 8 per cent in 2015 to 6 per cent in 2020.

The event saw an emphasis of innovation and prevention of malaria as opposed to curative strategy that has not borne fruits for many years now.

Various innovations were showcased at the event including the use of drones to deliver critical drugs to various medical facilities.

According to Zipline, a logistics company based in Chemelil, their innovation seeks to deliver essential and critical drugs to health facilities in the Lake Region Economic Bloc.

‘‘We are currently based in Chemelil and we cover a radius of 100 kilometers. We will be covering Nyamira, Kisumu, Kisii, Nandi and Kericho counties within the Lake Region Economic Bloc,’’ said Sharon Omota of Zipline.

She says the drone can travel within a radius of 100 kilometres serving various public health facilities of the county governments.

We usually deliver vaccines including malaria vaccines. In some of the countries we work in, we have been able to increase the uptake of vaccines.

CS Health Susan Nakhumicha, Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo (center) and Education CS Ezekiel Machogu share light moment during World Malaria day at Ekerenyo in Nyamira County. They pledged to work together to eradicate malaria in the county. Photo: Arnold Ageta

‘‘The maximum weight the drone can carry is 1.8kgs but we have plans of delivering up to 3kgs capacity,’’ she clarified.

The company seeks to deliver medical products to various facilities and within a shorter time.

‘‘With these drones we can be sure that the population has instant access and close access to vaccine products,’’ said Sharon.

Another innovation featured in the event was the manufacturing of mosquito repellant paint by No Malaria Kenya (Nomak).

Nomak CEO Asha Owino said that it is a very useful innovatin hat should be adopted.

‘‘It is a giant step in innovation and also in fighting mosquitoes. If you paint your house using this paint, the repellant has residual effects of up to one year,’’ he explained.

The mosquito repellant is infused in the paint to ensure protection from malaria for one year.

Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha said the Ruto government is committed to funding prevention strategies in the fight against malaria.

‘‘We want to emphasize on prevention and innovation because it is cheaper than curative. That is why we distributed 16 million nets to fight malaria,’’ she confirmed.

She however asked Governor Amos Nyaribo to invest in the community health volunteers who have recently done tremendous job in malaria prevention.

In her speech she said Ruto administration will partially fund the paying of community health volunteers and the county to bear the remaining amount of Ksh. 2500.

Confirming the payment, Governor Nyaribo said that they are waiting for the national government to fulfill its promise so that the volunteers can get paid allowances for their services.

‘‘We are ready to pay our portion as soon as you honor your promise to the counties,’’ Nyaribo informed the Cabinet Secretary.

Governor Nyaribo agreed that community health volunteers have greatly helped the county in the fight against malaria.

‘‘Because of the efforts and services of these community health volunteers we managed to reduce the county’s prevalence rate from 8.9 to 1 per cent,’’ Nyaribo said.

NOMAK CEO Asha Owino shares the organization’s innovation in the fight against malaria in Kenya. Photo: Arnold Ageta

The event was graced by CS Education, Ezekiel Machogu who said that county governments should initiate preventive interventions for malaria.

‘‘We need to initiate preventive measures and eventually we eradicate from not only in Kenya but Africa,’’ Machogu said.

Meanwhile the ministry of health Ps Josephine Mburu has asked men to be tested of malaria.

‘‘In our pre world malaria day campaign against malaria in Nyamira North, we realized that only women and youth were accepting malaria testing. Men were not willing,’’ she said.

USAID under the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) which has been supporting the country in the fight against malaria praised the county’s efforts in fight malaria.

PMI has in the recent past supported Nyamira County with treated mosquito nets for pregnant mothers and children under one year, malaria test kits and treatment of malaria.

The initiative also helped roll out a digital platform to streamline processes, strengthen data quality and increase accountability for net delivery to beneficiates in partnership with Global Fund.

PMI representative Dr. Mildred Shieshia, said that by committing to focus on the three pillars; invest, innovate and implement, malaria can be eliminated and create a future where no one in Kenya needs to die because of a mosquito bite.

‘’On this important day, we all need to remember that time to deliver zero malaria begins with me, begins with you and with all of us.’’ She concluded.

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