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More Reasons for Malaria Elimination in Africa

January 7, 2010 - 09:48 -- Patrick Sampao

No war is harder than when you have to face an enemy who gets a chance to regroup and rearm regulary hence coming back with more vigor each time. This is the kind of warfare Kenya has to encounter with malaria. The country is currently facing more than its fair share of problems with malaria. In recent times the war against malaria in Kenya has been hampered by multiple factors under which the disease reinvents itself.


First on the list is the new kid on the block “the Global Warming phenomena” Kenya has not been spared by this catastrophe as temperatures in the country’s highlands have been on the increase. According to a team of researchers funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID), global warming is to be blamed for the seven-fold increase in the malaria cases in the Mount Kenya region. The researchers say that the average temperature in the Kenyan Central Highlands had risen from 17C in 1989 to 19C today. Timesonline reports that, before the 1990’s malaria was absent from the region because the female anopheles mosquito matures only above 18C. As of now malaria is a new reality the people in those regions will have to contend and deal with.


The other factor is resistance to anti malarial drugs, which has been a major obstacle for effective malaria control in Kenya. The first case of chloroquine (CQ) resistance in Kenya was reported in 1977 . In 1993, resistance levels had reached 70% .In 1998, the Ministry of Health of Kenya changed the first line of treatment from chloroquine to sulfadoxine – pyrimethamine (SP; Fansidar, In 2004, the Health Ministry officially changed the first-line drug to artemether/lumefanthrin (Coartem).If this trend is anything to go by, there is a clear indication that drug resistance will keep evolving in the country.


Another contributing factor is change in land use in the form of deforestation and swamp cultivation taking into consideration, forests and swamps are well known ideal survival environments for mosquitoes. This has been occasioned by unprecedented human demand for forest products and land for agricultural cultivation seeing that farming is one of Kenya's main socio-economic activities. Its also fortunate or unfortunate that Kenya is widely a tropical climate zone, which also turns out as the ideal climate under which the Anopheles mosquito thrives, another plus for the Anopheles!


As if this is not enough, Kenya is currently experiencing nationwide heavy downpour which has caused flooding in most parts of the country. The flooded areas will make perfect breeding grounds for the Anopheles in the next few weeks, hence we're looking at potential life loss as a result of malaria. As seen, the enemy is taking advantage of every little situation to survive and claim more lives in Kenya and I believe Africa as a whole. I agree with everyone who shares the notion that is time that we take every available malaria fighting arsenal and fight towards its elimination.


Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Thanks Patrick, for these insightful comments on the malaria situation in Kenya. I hope that other subscribers will come forward and write about malaria and problems associated with its control in their own countries.

Best wishes, Bart