Nearly 34,000 children below five years die annually in Kenya due to malaria (USAIDKenya 1). In fact, the Ministry of Health (MOH) of Kenya ranks malaria as the second leading cause of death after HIV in infants (Foster 23). Reports indicate that over three quarters of Kenyans live in malaria endemic regions of the country. Children below the age of five years are the most vulnerable to malaria infection. Malaria pandemic poses a risk to close 3.4 million children under the age of five in Kenya.
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However, the Kenyan government has reported a 44 % decrease in malaria associated deaths in children under the age of five years (USAIDKenya 2). This is attributed to the use of Insecticide Treated Mosquito Nets (ITNs). In addition, the government indicates that the provision of free anti-malarial drugs has lowered malaria deaths significantly. Stakeholders agree that strategies that prevent malaria infection are much far better than those that emphasize on anti-malarial drugs. The combined use of ITNs and mosquito coils can decrease further cases of malaria infection and subsequent deaths.
The objective of the Proposal
This proposal argues that when ITNs and mosquito coils are used synergistically, they can reduce significantly cases of malarial infection in children under the age of five years. The focus is on children under the age of five years because they spend much of their time sleeping. This calls for the need to have them put under intense protection from mosquitoes. MOH reports indicate that the majority of malaria and infections occur in rural areas.
This is due to the fact that most rural residents live in houses with poor lighting systems due to the unavailability of electricity. Mosquitoes end up hiding in dark corners thus; malaria transmission does not only take place during the night but also during the day. Therefore, having around the clock protection in the form of ITNs and mosquito coils will go along way in the prevention of malaria infection and subsequent deaths in children under the age of five years.
Malaria is usually transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito (Foster, 25). Most of the infection occurs during the night. However, as indicated above malaria infection can also take place during the day in rooms that lack proper lighting systems. The prevalence of malaria in Kenya is high in rural areas. This is attributed to a number of reasons. First, the majority of the populations live in ordinary houses that lack electricity. They end up using alternative lighting systems that do not provide enough light. Poor lighting system at night and during the day encourages mosquitoes to hide in dark corners of the house.
On the other hand, a considerable number of communities in these malaria endemic regions live close to water masses; i.e., rivers and lakes that form the breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Eventually, the increased numbers of mosquitoes compete for vital components of their reproductive cycle including the bodies of human beings. Children under the age of five, who spend a substantial time sleeping, become the casualties. ITNs contain permethrin (a contact insecticide: neurotoxin). “Mosquito coils contain powdered pyrethrin or pyrethroid which when lit produces formaldehyde that repels mosquitoes and causes mosquito bite inhibition, mosquito deterrence, mosquito knockdown and mosquito death” (Goodyer et al. 187). The two strategies work synergistically.
The success of this program will require the supply of a sufficient number of ITNs and mosquito coils to the local communities. In addition, the local communities will have to be educated on the use of these two components. Proper educative measures will need to be implemented to teach them how and when to light the coils or treat their nets. This may require donors to support the purchase of mosquito nets and coils. In addition, enough funds will need to be availed for use in the educative programs.
The current preventative programs employ ITNs only. The use of ITNs alone suffers several setbacks. First, the mosquito nets are not available to everyone. Second, after the expiry of the insecticide, most residents fail to treat their nets. Nets may become worn out and a small opening in the net can let in mosquitoes. Some residents are reluctant to sleep under the nets. However, coils will be able to fill in the gaps. Whenever the net is malfunctioning, then the coil comes into play. Moreover, when both are functioning the effect is enhanced.
However, this program might encounter several challenges. The success of the program depends on a constant supply of the nets and coils to the residents. In case the supply is cut short, then the population becomes endangered. Safety precautions will need to be observed by people when handling insecticides and coils because they are toxic when ingested. Some experts argue that the formaldehyde produced my cause adverse effects in children.
In conclusion, it can be argued that this preventative strategy is essential in the reduction of malaria mortalities in infants. However, its success will depend on a constant supply of treated nets and mosquito coils. Educative programs on the use of these two components will be required.
Foster, D. Malaria Prevention in Kenyan Women of Child Bearing Age. Michigan: ProQuest, 2008. Print.
Goodyer et al. “Expert Revie on the Evidence Basefor Arthropod Paste Avoidance.” Journal of Travel Medicine (2010) 17.3: 182-192. Web.
USAIDKenya. President’s Malaria Initiative. USAID Kenya 2012. Web.