Government launches anti-malaria campaign

Kenya's Ministry of Health has launched a four-day nationwide campaign to retreat at least 1.8 million bed nets with long-lasting insecticide to control the spread of malaria as the rainy season sets in, a senior health official said.

"The nets will be retreated in all the eight provinces in the country," Shahnaz Sharif, the senior deputy director of medical services in Kenya's health ministry said. "400,000 torn and worn out nets will be replaced with long-lasting nets."

Most of the bed nets in use are not long lasting and require constant insecticide re-treatment, Sharif said.

"Those in use in most homesteads were introduced in the market in 2002, they only last 6 months," he said.

The long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) are more effective in providing protection from the bites of malaria causing mosquitoes.

Sharif said the use of treated nets has reduced malaria prevalence. "In 2004 some areas had a prevalence of 30 percent, now it's down to six percent," he said, adding that the ministry of health would soon be launching the malaria indicator survey for the whole country.

''Those in use in most homesteads were introduced in the market in 2002, they only last 6 months''

"Despite big increases in the supply of mosquito nets, especially of LLINs in Africa, the number available in 2006 was still far below need in almost all countries," said a UN World Health Organization (WHO) malaria report for 2008. Only 125 million people in Africa used bed nets in 2007, while a further 650 million were still at risk of malaria.

"There were an estimated 247 million malaria cases among 3.3 billion people at risk worldwide in 2006, causing nearly a million deaths, mostly of children under five years," the WHO report said.

Eighty percent of the cases in Africa were in 13 countries, and over half were in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, said the report.

The net re-treatment campaign will cost at least US$4.6 million and is supported by the UN Children's Fund and WHO.