Global Giving Campaign Reduces Impact of Malaria on Children in Rural Kenya
Malaria is the number one cause of illness in children in Kenya. Most districts in the North Rift Valley Province lie in areas of seasonal or epidemic-prone transmission zones of malaria. In these areas, malaria accounts for 29% of all outpatient visits, 52% of hospital admissions and nearly 19% of all deaths annually. According to health facility data, 40% of all children tested for malaria in the HealthRight project areas received a positive result.
And yet, malaria is a fully preventable and treatable disease if basic interventions are implemented. In the fight against malaria in rural Kenya, the needs are great but the solutions are simple. With inexpensive resources such as test kits, microscopes, and mosquito nets, HealthRight’s project saves hundreds of children’s lives every year.
HealthRight’s malaria program was officially handed over to local Ministry of Health officials before the end of December 2012. The 3-year program had successfully supported communities and facilities in 6 districts in the North Rift Valley of Kenya to reduce the impact of malaria on children under five years of age and pregnant women, who are the most at risk for death due to malaria.
Over the course of three years, the HealthRight program achieved several very positive outcomes that together ultimately can reduce morbidity and mortality from malaria in these districts.
- Increased Rates of Timely Treatment for Children
Three years ago, only 30% of children under five with malaria were able to receive treatment in the first day, which is crucial for avoiding serious illness and death. At the end of 2012, that rate had increased to 89% due to the efforts of HealthRight. This is a substantial and important increase for saving children’s lives.
- Greater use of mosquito nets among children
One of the only proven methods for preventing malaria in children is the routine use of mosquito nets at night. HealthRight and the project partners worked to raise awareness among families in these six districts about the importance of placing young children under mosquito nets to sleep each night. At the same time, the project provided nets to the health facilities where they would be disbursed for free to young children during their visits.
- Greater knowledge about malaria in the communities
With our project partners, including ten community-based organizations and over 1,000 Community Health Workers, the HealthRight project has been working over the past three years to raise awareness among families in these rural communities about the dangers of malaria. The project was dedicated to giving mothers better information about malaria and its risks for their children so that they seek treatment at a health facility quickly. According to a survey conducted in November 2012, the percentage of mothers that could recognize the symptoms of malaria increased by nearly 20% in three years.
- Malaria rates drop by 49% in 3 years
In the six rural districts, HealthRight has been tracking the rates of confirmed malaria cases in all of the health facilities since the beginning of the project. These data show that malaria rates have been cut in half in the past three years. This means that each month, several thousand children are saved from getting malaria and needing treatment. HealthRight’s efforts to raise awareness among mothers, improve treatment in the facilities and increase the use of mosquito nets in the communities can all contribute to these reductions.
Mosquito Net photo