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From Pan African News Agency Africa News - Original


Kenya Issues Malaria Alert

BYLINE: John Mwaura, PANA Correspondent

DATELINE: 3 November 1999

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - Kenya Wednesday issued a national alert on malaria, saying the tropical disease which is both preventable and curable, was killing Kenyans at an alarming rate.

Issuing the alert, the country's Ministers in charge of Public Health and Health Services, Sam Ongeri and Amukowa Anangwe, said to date, the disease prevalence had reached alarming proportions.

It kills 72 children daily, while another 14,000 require hospitalisation as a consequence of cerebral malaria, they added.

"Some 8.5 million Kenyans are at risk from the malaria epidemic," they told journalists at the Health Ministry in Nairobi soon after receiving equipment, vaccines and insecticides worth about 95,000 US dollars from the WHO to be used in malaria control.

The ministers said the disease had stretched health care delivery systems to the limit and accounted for over 30 percent of out-patient attendance in health facilities across the country.

The ministers called for intervention measures such as vector control and use of insecticide treated mosquito nets to combat the disease, adding that the ministry was in the forefront implementing various malaria control measures.

"Guidelines launched on the control of the disease last year (1998) are being introduced to health workers throughout the country," they said.

Ongeri called for concerted efforts to fight the scourge, saying that recent revelations of the disease showed that even high altitude areas, formerly considered as malaria-free, were now experiencing the epidemic, resulting in many deaths.

"There is little immunity and all age groups are affected," Ongeri said, adding that in future, the government may be forced to invoke the Public Health Act to contain epidemics which were preventable.

The minister was against the use of chloroquine for malaria treatment, saying Kenya is the "epicentre of chloroquine resistance on the continent."

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