D espite making significant gains in promoting awareness of health and wellness in Kenya, preventable diseases remain a serious issue. Malaria is one of the country’s biggest problems, with thousands of children dying every year from this treatable disease.

According to Kemri.org Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Kenya.

  • 25 million out of a population of 34 million Kenyans are at risk of malaria.
  • It accounts for 30-50% of all outpatient attendance and 20% of all admissions to health facilities.
  • An estimated 170 million working days are lost to the disease each year (MOH 2001).
  • Malaria is also estimated to cause 20% of all deaths in children under five (MOH 2006).
  • The most vulnerable group to malaria infections are pregnant women and children under 5 years of age.

Over the last 10 years, Kenya has made progress in malaria control. However, the country is still far from defeating the disease, says Data Dredger, a Kenyan site on data journalism practice

Compromising the fight against malaria are factors such as poor knowledge of the disease and the lack of diagnostic equipment in health facilities. Also: people are not taking preventive measures seriously – such as sleeping under insecticide treated nets. Many women are also not taking antimalarial drugs during pregnancy.

75% of Children are Exposed to the Malaria Parasite

3 out of 4 Africans are exposed to the malaria parasite. Specifically, it is a disease of African children: 40% have some level of Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest form of malaria, in their blood, and more children die from malaria than any other patient group.

How to Prevent Getting Malaria

Mosquitoes love warmth and moisture – they need pockets of standing water for their larvae to develop. Even a small puddle like a cow’s hoof print in the mud will be fine, so take extra care in the rainy season or if you live near water.

Protect Yourself at Night

Avoid sleeping outside or near where mosquitoes like to live, e.g. standing water (tyres, lakes, rubbish dumps). If you have netting on your windows, make sure that there are no holes anywhere and keep the door closed at all times. These may be very basic rules, but they are a good start to staying safe from Malaria.

Mosquito Nets Work Well

Insecticide-treated mosquito netting – Long-Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLIN) – a relatively low-tech, low-cost anti-malaria tool, is also one of the most effective.

Always use a bed-net impregnated with insecticides. Check that the net is not damaged and always make sure that the net is properly tucked underneath your mattress so that there is no place for the mosquitos to get through. The room itself should have extra nets or screens attached to the windows and doors.

Early Treatment is Essential

If someone has flulike symptom, get medical advice. Speak to the community health worker. We know that for many people living in rural areas, the closest medical care is kilometres away, but don’t delay to seek treatment especially for young children because Malaria can quickly become life-threatening

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